In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses the differences between “Immediate” POAs and “Springing” POAs.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
Powers of attorney, both for property and healthcare, can either be what’s called “Immediate” or “Springing”. What do those mean? Well, “Immediate” is pretty easy to understand. It means it takes effect as soon as you sign it. A “Springing” power of attorney doesn’t take effect until some later event, most often, that later event is if your doctor declares that you are no longer competent to make decisions.
Instinct, in a lot of cases, would suggest “Well, let’s make it ‘Springing’, because I don’t want people taking over for me until I get to that point”. I actually think that that’s, in fact, a bad idea, and I greatly prefer immediate powers of attorney. Here’s why, a “Springing” power of attorney, sort of assumes that as you go along you’re completely okay, completely okay, completely okay, and then one day, boom, you are no longer competent at all to make and carry out decisions.
I think that’s an unusual situation; that’s somebody having a stroke, or a massive heart attack, or getting hit by a bus, or, you know, things like that. 99 times out of a 100 it is a gradual decline, and if you have an “Immediate” power of attorney, you have the opportunity for this transition from: let’s just take the checking account; here I will, I start out writing my own checks to pay my own bills, then maybe, I want you to come over, if you are my agent, and I want you to sit down with me, make sure I’m paying the right things, and then I’ll write the checks; and then maybe you’re doing everything except me signing the checks; and then, finally, it’s, you know what, we better just have you take over the whole process. That seems, to me, to be much more natural.
Another reason I prefer “Immediate” is that giving someone else power of attorney authority to act on your behalf, doesn’t take away your own authority to act on your own behalf. So you can continue to do things, even though you’ve given power of attorney, and if the person that you’ve given power of attorney winds up to be somebody who you decide you can’t trust, you can always change the power of attorney. So, that’s why I like “Immediate” powers of attorney better. Thanks!
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.