To Spring or Not to Spring – Powers of Attorney

Estate Planning Kansas City

Estate Planning North Kansas City – Powers of attorney

When people think of an estate plan, often they are focused on what happens when they pass. Really, though, each estate plan focuses on three areas: 1) healthy and active phase where much of your plan is “dormant”; 2) incapacitation where you need help managing your affairs and making decisions; and 3) after death. For the second phase, incapacitation, it is important to have a plan for making critical financial and medical decisions if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself.

That’s where the power of attorney (POA) comes in. Estate attorneys in Kansas City will generally advise you appoint a trusted representative so serve as your agent. This is given the authority to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Most estate plans will use separate POAs, one for health care decisions and one for property and financial affairs. The POA allows your loved ones to make decisions on your behalf without having to petition a court for guardianship or conservatorship.

The power of attorney can be either springing or non-springing. Which one you choose is a matter of your situation and specific concerns.

To spring or not to spring

A springing POA is effective on the occurrence of specified conditions; such as incapacitation or disappearance. A non-springing, POA is effective immediately. Typically, springing powers would take effect if you were to become mentally incapacitated, comatose or otherwise unable to act for yourself.

There are two primary benefits of a non-springing POA:

It allows your agent to act on your behalf for your convenience, not just when you’re incapacitated. For example, if you’re traveling out of the country for an extended period of time, your POA for property agent could pay bills and handle other financial matters for you in your absence.

It avoids the need for a determination that you’ve become incapacitated, which can result in delays, disputes or even litigation. This allows your agent to act quickly in an emergency, making critical medical decisions or handling urgent financial matters without having to wait, for example, for one or more treating physicians to examine you and certify that you’re incapacitated.

One significant disadvantage for a nonspringing POA is that it is effective immediately – whether you need it or nor. This downfall is a common reason people opt for a springing POA. Some may be concerned that the agent will be tempted to commit fraud or otherwise abuse his or her authority.

What to do?

Given the advantages and convenience of a non-springing POA, it is generally preferable. It also avoids the potential delays associated with a springing POA. Just make sure the person you name as agent is someone you trust unconditionally.

Estate Planning Kansas City is an estate planning attorney in Overland Park providing wills and trusts to those in Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, Prairie Village, Roeland Park and Shawnee and now serving Parkville, Riverside and North Kansas City from our Briarcliff Office. Each situation is different and this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be placed solely upon the base of this post