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Power of Attorney Lawyers in Chester County, PA, Assisting Clients With Their Legal Needs

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which the principal grants authority to another person, the agent authority to act on their behalf. Additionally, an “attorney in fact,” is also a critical aspect of an estate plan as it appoints the agent who will serve as your power of attorney should the need arise.

Once a power of attorney has been granted, the agent has the legal authority to handle legal, financial, and medical matters for the principal if they cannot do so for themselves.

However, several types of powers of attorney can be granted based on your needs. Therefore, before granting a POA to anyone, you should understand your rights and what legal powers your agent will have once the power of attorney document takes effect.

Contact Peak Legal Group of Chester Co, PA, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your power of attorney needs. A qualified power of attorney lawyer will happily sit down with you and determine which type of POA is right for you.

What Are the Different Types of Power of Attorney Available in Pennsylvania?

Depending on your legal needs, there are several power of attorney options in Pennsylvania. Some of the most common include:

  • A durable power of attorney: A durable POA gives the agent legal authority to act on their behalf even if they become disabled or incapacitated. A durable power of attorney is often utilized by individuals acting on behalf of others in business operating transactions and brokerage accounts.
  • Limited power of attorney: This power of attorney gives the agent the authority to act on the principal’s behalf for a limited purpose and amount of time, such as buying or selling real estate.
  • General power of attorney: A general power of attorney grants the agent the same legal authority the principal has and allows them to pay bills, manage financial matters, and sign documents. However, the document is no longer valid if the principal becomes incapacitated, dies, or through revocation.
  • Medical power of attorney: This allows patients to assign an agent to make health care decisions if they cannot do so for themselves.
  • Springing power of attorney: The legal authority associated with this type of power of attorney only goes into effect if the principal becomes incapacitated.
  • Statutory gift rider: While technically not a power of attorney, a statutory gift rider allows an agent the ability to give gifts totaling up to $500 per year, transfer assets to trusts, and change beneficiary designations.

What Are the Legal Requirements to Be a Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania?

For any individual considering acting as an agent on behalf of a principal, specific legal requirements must be adhered to according to Pennsylvania law.

As of January 15th, 2015, three legal elements have been added to the power of attorney form, which the principal and the agent must sign. They include:

  • Act in accordance with the principal’s best interests and reasonable expectations to the extent they are known by the agent.
  • Act in good faith.
  • Act only within the scope of authority granted by the power of attorney document.

Other legal specifications that must be adhered to by the agent include:

  • Avoid a conflict of interest that could affect their ability to act on behalf of the principal.
  • Keep their personal funds separate from the principal’s.
  • Act with appropriate care, diligence, and competence.
  • Keep an accurate record of all receipts, banking transactions, and disbursements made on behalf of the principal.
  • Cooperate with the healthcare proxy.

Under state law, an agent must be a competent adult at least 18 years of age. An individual who needs an agent often chooses a close family member such as a spouse, parent, sibling, or even grandparent, depending on their legal needs. Peak Legal Group can gladly provide you with more information power of attorney legal requirements.

What is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Proxy?

Often the terms power of attorney and healthcare proxy are incorrectly used synonymously. However, there are distinct legal differences between the two. For example, a healthcare proxy is only permitted to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal in the event they are incapacitated. However, a healthcare proxy is not entitled to take other actions, such as financial decisions, on behalf of the agent.

However, a power of attorney grants individuals the legal authority to make other decisions for the principal as long as they are within the scope of the document.

Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney Lawyer?

Deciding to grant another person power of attorney is a decision that should never be taken lightly. For this reason, it is wise to consider who will be your power of attorney carefully. Whoever you choose will have the legal ability to make medical decisions, access your bank account or other assets, and buy or sell real property on your behalf. For example, your attorney in fact, has the legal ability to change life insurance beneficiaries on your behalf. Additionally, you should never assign an individual to be your agent if you feel they have used undue influence to do so.

If you need legal advice on who you should act as your agent, contact Peak Legal Group of Chester Co, PA, at 610-989-7064 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation. A qualified legal team member will be happy to address your concerns and help you make an informed decision.