Have you ever considered what would happen to you and your personal matters in the event that you become incapacitated and were unable to make crucial decisions on your own behalf? For some, this probably sounds like an extreme situation that is unlikely to happen. Or perhaps you think that you don’t own enough assets or finances to make this type of precaution necessary.
Regardless of your current financial standing or state of health, it is beneficial not only to you, but to your entire family, to consider appointing a trusted friend or family member with the legal power to step in and make decisions about your financial, health and personal affairs.
In Washington state, you can do this by creating a General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA). This document allows you to grant authority to another individual of your choosing to manage your finances and assets in the event that an accident or illness renders you unable to make these decisions on your own behalf.
The person who you give this authority to is called an attorney-in-fact, or an agent, and you can give them authority over a broad range of legal, financial and personal subject matters, including but not limited to the power to:
- Collect debts, cash checks and pay bills for you
- Manage your personal property, bank, and investment accounts
- File your taxes
- Make gifts on your behalf
- Manage your estate and trusts documents
- Operate your business
- Apply for public benefits, such as social security, on your behalf
- Pursue legal actions on your behalf
- Hire legal and financial professionals for aid in managing affairs
- Designate a guardian for your minor children, if needed
In order to help ensure that your interests are protected, there are some formalities involved in creating a GDPOA. Your signature must either be acknowledged by a notary or attested by two or more witnesses, who are competent, and are not home care providers for you or related to either you or the agent by blood or marriage. These increased formalities are intended to provide safeguards to reduce the incidence of fraudulent powers of attorney and ensure that the power of attorney was not signed under undue influence or duress.
You are also allowed to rescind a GDPO and make changes or appoint a new agent.
If you are interested in learning more about how to create a GDPOA, our attorneys are well-versed in this subject matter, and can help you take the necessary steps to get started. Give us a call today to speak with one our knowledgeable attorneys.