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Does a power of attorney take effect right away?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2023 | Estate Planning

If you’re in a position where you want to give someone else the legal power to make choices or take action for you, you can do it with a power of attorney. For instance, maybe you want someone else to be able to access your bank accounts or talk to your doctors about treatment options. You could use a financial power of attorney or a medical power of attorney to do so.

This is a very common part of estate planning and something that most people should consider. But you might be surprised that people would just sign their rights away. Even if you were getting older and making your estate plan, you still want to be able to make your own financial and medical decisions. Does that power of attorney kick in right away, and do you need to be careful when you make it?

Springing power of attorney

You don’t have to worry, at least if the power of attorney has been set up correctly. Generally, they are designed to be “springing” documents, which means that something has to trigger them to take effect. They don’t change your rights at the moment they are drafted, and no one else has the ability to make decisions for you yet.

Generally, the event that makes them legally binding is if you become incapacitated

Maybe you have a heart attack and end up in the hospital. Perhaps you get involved in a car accident. Maybe you’re just suffering from disorders often related to aging, such as Alzheimer’s.

If something like this happens and you can’t make your choices on your own, then the power of attorney is there to give you support and to ensure that someone else will make those decisions. But you don’t have to worry that they’re going to do it before you’re incapacitated.

That being said, you can see why it’s so important to set this document up correctly. Make sure you know what legal steps to take.