Washington probate: Misconceptions about POAs

A power of attorney — what is it and is it a good thing to have? The truth is, numerous Washington residents can benefit from having POAs, but many people are confused as to what these documents can actually do to help them or where they can get one. A probate law attorney can answer any questions one might have about POAs and help anyone who wants to create one.

There are a lot of misconceptions about POAs out there that make people think they would be better off without one in their legal arsenal. For instance, some people believe that, if they sign this type of legal document, they are giving away their right to make decisions for themselves. That is far from the truth. A POA does not give the assigned personal representative free rein to do what he or she wants with one’s assets or to make medical decisions that one would not make for him- or herself. There are limits to the representative’s power, and any decisions made have to be in the best interests of the principal.

Another misconception is that, once signed, a POA becomes immediately active. It can, but it does not have to. Depending on what one wants, it is possible to say that the POA will only activate if one becomes incapacitated. It is all about personal preference here.

A power of attorney allows a person to decide who they believe will act in their best interests when he or she cannot do things for him- or herself and name that person to be their personal representative. When Washington residents do not have POAs in place or have poorly made POAs in place, the courts may get to make this decision. Who wants that? A probate law attorney can help those who are interested in POAs create valid legal documents that fully and clearly express their wishes.

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