In today’s electronic age just about anything can be downloaded from the internet. “Do-it-yourself”, or DIY, projects of all sorts, for example, can be found online. Even legal forms, including a power of attorney, can be found online or at your local stationary or office supply store. Just because you can find a boilerplate DIY power of attorney from Staples or Office Depot does not mean you should use any DIY legal form. Going the DIY route appear to be the quick and easy way of creating your power of attorney, or POA; however, it may cost you far more in the long run than what you save in the short run.
A power of attorney gives another person (your “Agent”) the authority to act on your behalf in legal matters. If you execute a general POA your Agent has the authority to do things such as withdraw funds from financial accounts and even enter into contracts in your name. Is this the kind of power you want to depend on a generic DIY form to grant? The list of problems that can result when using a DIY power of attorney form are virtually endless; however, some of the most common problems include:
- Not state specific – most laws relating to wills, trusts, and estates, including power of attorney issues, are state laws, meaning they can vary from one state to the next. Generic forms, however, do not generally take into account state specific laws.
- Outdated laws – laws can, and do, change frequently. Forms found at Staples or Office Depot may have been published years ago and, therefore, do not account for the changes in the law since they were published.
- Incomplete – because these DIY forms are intended to apply to anyone needing a power of attorney they may be incomplete, only including the very basics of a power of attorney.
- Inadequate instructions – because only a licensed attorney can give legal advice the instructions found with these boilerplate forms are often inadequate.
- Failing to make it durable – often, the purpose of a power of attorney is to make sure someone will be able to access assets in the event of the Principal’s incapacity. Unless the power of attorney is made durable though the Agent’s authority will cease with the incapacity of the Principal. Many generic forms do not include language required to make the power of attorney durable.
If you have additional questions or concerns about a power of attorney, or about your Texas estate plan, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.