Power of Attorney
Powers of Attorney allow people to designate specific people to act on their behalves in handling financial, medical, or legal decisions. The person who grants the authority is called a principal, and the person who is given permission to act for the principal is called an agent or an attorney-in-fact.
Whereas a will merely indicates what you want to happen when you die, a power of attorney gives the person you designate control over your wishes and your possessions while you are still alive. There are several different types of these legal documents, and you will want to have legal representation to ensure that the agent you choose is not given too much or too little power.
West Chester Lawyer for Power of Attorney
If you need assistance drafting a power of attorney, it is wise to work with a skilled Pennsylvania family law attorney. Ciccarelli Law Offices helps clients with estate planning matters in Chester County as well as surrounding areas of Montgomery County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Philadelphia County.
Our firm will answer all of your questions, address all of your concerns, and make sure that your wishes are accurately reflected in your final document. Call (877) 529-2422 right now to take advantage of a free consultation that will let us review your case.
Chester County Power of Attorney Overview
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Types of Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania
The different types of this estate planning document include:
- Durable Powers of Attorney — These documents take effect as soon as principals sign them and they end with their deaths. Durable powers of attorney can frequently combine health care powers of attorney and living wills, allowing agents to make decisions regarding medical care and end-of-life decisions in the event that principals become incapacitated.
- General Powers of Attorney — These documents give agents the authority to do anything the principal would do, but the power of the document ends if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated.
- Limited Powers of Attorney — These documents allow agents to act on behalf of principals only in specific situations, typically with a beginning and ending time specified within the document.
- Springing Powers of Attorney — These documents go into effect only if the principal becomes incapacitated.
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Duties of Agent in Chester County Power of Attorney
Unless a provision in the document indicates otherwise, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 20 Chapter 56 § 5601.3 states that an agent who accepts an appointment as attorney-in-fact shall:
- Act in accordance with the principal's reasonable expectations to the extent actually known by the agent and, otherwise, in the principal's best interest
- Act in good faith
- Act only within the scope of authority granted in the power of attorney
- Act loyally for the principal's benefit
- Keep the agent's funds separate from the principal's funds unless the funds were not kept separate as of the date of the execution of the power of attorney or the principal commingles the funds after the date of the execution of the power of attorney and the agent is the principal's spouse
- Act so as not to create a conflict of interest that impairs the agent's ability to act impartially in the principal's best interest
- Act with the care, competence and diligence ordinarily exercised by agents in similar circumstances
- Keep a record of all receipts, disbursements and transactions made on behalf of the principal
- Cooperate with a person who has authority to make health care decisions for the principal to carry out the principal's reasonable expectations to the extent actually known by the agent and, otherwise, act in the principal's best interest
- Attempt to preserve the principal's estate plan, to the extent actually known by the agent, if preserving the plan is consistent with the principal's best interest based on all relevant factors, including:
- The value and nature of the principal's property.
- The principal's foreseeable obligations and need for maintenance.
- Minimization of taxes, including income, estate, inheritance, generation-skipping transfer and gift taxes.
- Eligibility for a benefit, program or assistance under a statute or regulation.
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Authority Granted in Pennsylvania Power of Attorney
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 20 Chapter 56 § 5602 states that a principal can empower an agent to do any or all of the following:
- Make limited gifts
- Create a trust for principal’s benefit
- Make additions to an existing trust for principal’s benefit
- Claim an elective share of the estate of principal’s deceased spouse
- Renounce fiduciary positions
- Withdraw and receive the income or corpus of a trust
- Authorize principal’s admission to a medical, nursing, residential or similar facility and to enter into agreements for my care
- Authorize medical and surgical procedures
- Engage in real property transactions
- Engage in tangible personal property transactions
- Engage in stock, bond and other securities transactions
- Engage in commodity and option transactions
- Engage in banking and financial transactions
- Borrow money
- Enter safe deposit boxes
- Engage in insurance and annuity transactions
- Engage in retirement plan transactions
- Handle interests in estates and trusts
- Pursue claims and litigation
- Receive government benefits
- Pursue tax matters
- Make an anatomical gift of all or part of principal’s body
It is important to note that Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 20 Chapter 56 § 5601.4 outlines some authorizations that require specific and general grants of authority. These include the abilities to:
- Create, amend, revoke or terminate an inter vivos trust other than as permitted above
- Make a gift
- Create or change rights of survivorship
- Create or change a beneficiary designation
- Delegate authority granted under the power of attorney
- Waive the principal's right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan
- Exercise fiduciary powers that the principal has authority to delegate
- Disclaim property, including a power of appointment
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Differences Between Power of Attorney and Guardianship in Chester County
Powers of attorney are different from guardianships in several ways, including:
Power of Attorney
Principal chooses agent
Court chooses guardian
Principal must be cognizant and mentally competent
Ward needs to be incapacitated
Agent can be personally liable for not acting in accordance with wishes of principal
Guardian only risks liability if he or she commits illegal acts
Principal can revoke agreement
Court must terminate guardianship
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Find A Power of Attorney Lawyer in West Chester
Make sure that all of your estate planning concerns are addressed by having an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney help you properly create and file your legal documents. Ciccarelli Law Offices can determine the best ways for you to protect your assets and have your wishes carried out in the event that you ever become incapacitated.
Our firm serves all of Chester County, including West Goshen, Kennett Square, Phoenixville, Downingtown, West Caln, Easttown, West Chester, and Coatesville. We can review your case and discuss your options during a free consultation when you call (877) 529-2422 today.