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Durable Power of Attorney Lawyer in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Many are familiar with the basics of using a will for estate planning, but most estate plans include other important documents as well. It may be in your best interest to establish a durable financial power of attorney (POA).  

Whether you’ve already written out an estate plan and are now looking to expand it, or if you’re considering writing one but not sure where to start, everyone can benefit from consulting an experienced estate planning attorney. If you’re anywhere in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, including Oconto, Shawano, Kewaunee, and Sturgeon Bay, call us at Lewis & Van Sickle, LLC to schedule an appointment and learn about your options. 

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What Is a Durable Financial Power of Attorney?  

In general, “power of attorney” refers to an estate planning document that names an individual who can act in a legal capacity on your behalf should you die or become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. The specific provisions of a POA will vary for each person. Furthermore, there are two main types of POA that you can set up: one for making financial decisions and one for making healthcare decisions. 

The other thing to understand is the difference between durable vs. non-durable power of attorney. Typically, if you only name an agent to have non-durable power of attorney, their authority will be invalid should you become disabled or incapacitated. However, most people choose to assign “durable” financial power of attorney, meaning your agent’s authority will continue (remain “durable”) even if you become disabled or unable to communicate.  

As your financial power of attorney, your agent will be responsible for a number of things, including: 

  • Making decisions about how to use your assets to pay your care expenses 

  • Paying down debts and taxes 

  • Making investment choices for your IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts), stocks, and mutual funds 

  • Buying and selling insurance policies 

  • Operating your business 

  • Transferring properties and assets into an established trust 

  • Hiring a legal representative for you 

Because of the broad range of power your agent has, it’s essential to carefully consider whom you choose for this role. This should be someone you know well and trust to make decisions for you. You may choose to name the same person as both your financial and health care power of attorney, or you can name two separate people.  

You can also choose to limit their power. For example, for a financial POA, you may decide to only give them power over your real estate holdings, but not over insurance or investments. 

Reasons a Financial POA’s Role Ends   

It’s important to understand that even after you’ve named someone as POA, you still retain some control over this during your lifetime. At any point, as long as you’re still mentally competent, you can choose to revoke a durable power of attorney and name someone else to fill the role.  

Another reason a POA may end is if you’ve named your spouse as your agent and you get divorced. Under state law, POA is automatically revoked in cases like this and you’ll then have to name someone else. One last reason the POA role may end is if you’ve named someone who’s no longer living. In most cases, your attorney will advise you to name someone who has a reasonable likelihood of outliving as well as naming an alternative POA should your first choice be unable to fulfill their duties. 

How to Create Your Durable Financial Power of Attorney  

When creating a durable financial power of attorney your first step should always be to hire an experienced estate planning attorney to help you. The form you must fill out and sign is fairly straightforward, but it requires a great deal of planning and forethought that your lawyer can help you work through.  

You should also consult not only with your legal team but also with your chosen agent before finalizing any documents. Your agent should be fully aware of their responsibilities and be willing to take on the role. Ideally, you and your attorney should go over every aspect of the document with your agent so they have an opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. 

Durable Power of Attorney Lawyer in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Estate planning should be an essential part of anyone’s life, especially as their family becomes more complicated with marriage, having a child, or aging. For help with establishing a financial power or attorney, or any aspect of the estate planning process, contact us at Lewis & Van Sickle, LLC in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to book an appointment.