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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

When Does a Power of Attorney End in Sacramento, California

September 5, 2014

Sacramento, California estate lawyers are forever advising clients on the importance of powers of attorney. These documents can be used to name the person in charge of making another’s medical decisions, or even to take care of someone’s finances in his or her stead. There are a number of great reasons to employ the power of attorney in order to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones.

There are a lot of legal ins-and-outs when it comes to these powers of attorney, which means they can be a bit confusing. A good estate lawyer in Sacramento, CA will work with clients to ensure they have all of the pertinent information to make decisions and create the types of powers of attorney that will best serve their purposes.

One aspect that doesn’t always get a lot of consideration is how long a power of attorney lasts. For example, when you give someone the right to make your medical decisions for you, is there a time limit? Does that power ever revert to the courts? What if you gave your ex-spouse power of attorney and don’t want him or her to have it anymore?

There are actually several ways in which a power of attorney can end, and your Sacramento, CA estate lawyer will likely go over them all with you and help make sure you have contingency plans in place to avoid unwanted consequences.

Your Death: Any powers of attorney that were given during your life end when you die.  There have been cases where the agent was unaware of the death and continued to act in his or her capacity. These actions were considered invalid.

Revocation of the Document: You are allowed to revoke the power of attorney or to otherwise change it during your lifetime, as long as you are of sound mind. This can be a relief for those who can foresee a possible change in circumstances later.

The Agent’s Death: If the person named in the power of attorney has passed away, there is obviously no one to fulfill that role. For this reason, you and your estate lawyer in Sacramento will likely name an alternate. In some cases, you may even be able to allow the alternate agent to choose a different person to take on the role.

Court Order: While uncommon, it is possible for a power of attorney to be ruled invalid by a judge. This would usually only happen if it could be proven that you were of unsound mind or had been unduly influenced or the victim of fraud.

Divorce: In California, upon divorce your ex-spouse’s ability to act as your power of attorney is automatically revoked by law. However, if you have provided a copy of your power to a financial institution, you will want to let them know of the divorce, just in case your ex-spouse tries to use the power of attorney. Better yet, revoke the entire document, execute a new one, and give the financial institution the new one.

Probably the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to how a power of attorney ends is that you have quite a bit of control. You are able to revoke an agent, and would likely want to do so in cases where an ex-spouse was named, or the original agent somehow became an inappropriate choice. As long as you are acting with sound mind, and preferably with the assistance of a reputable estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, CA there is very little chance that a disgruntled family member would later get your decision invalidated.

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