Most people recognize that a Financial Power of Attorney (PoA) is a critical part of a complete estate plan. While a Last Will and Testament describes the distribution of your estate after you have passed away, the financial Power of Attorney allows you to give somebody to power to handle your business affairs if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of your finances yourself. This article discusses the implications of creating a Financial PoA. Keep in mind that we are not dealing with a healthcare PoA in this article which is an entirely different document.
Background to the Financial Power of Attorney
A financial PoA allows you (the grantor, principal or donor) to grant power to another person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) to handle specific or general financial tasks under defined circumstances. This gives rise to the different types of financial PoA; they can be “special” or “limited” if they grant specific powers to the agent, or you can create a “general Power of Attorney” if the powers are not to be restricted.
There are three types of general PoA Continue reading
In the last week alone I have seen a number of people asking the question on the internet “Is it okay to prepare my own Will using an online Will service”. I have been shocked at the amount of misinformation that has been posted in reply.
To be clear, I am defending an interactive online Will service like the one at USLegalWills.com, I am not suggesting that you should prepare your Will using a blank form DIY Will kit that you could buy in Staples. The blank form kits are a disaster, but the online Will services are an excellent mid-ground for somebody who doesn’t want the inconvenience and cost of a lawyer, but still needs to have their Will in place.
These are some of the most egregious, incorrect warnings that I have seen in the last week.
1. You must use a lawyer
Written by a lawyer in response to a question on Quora.
We are seeing an increasing number of articles about “online Wills” but the definition seems to be vague. Let us explore what exactly is meant by an “online Will”.
What is a Last Will and Testament
There are clear laws as to what constitutes a legal Last Will and Testament and these laws are quite consistent across all jurisdictions. To be a legal Will, the document must be written or typed on a piece of paper, and usually it must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses who have nothing to gain from the contents of the Will. We say “usually” because in some jurisdictions they accept a “holographic Will” which is entirely written in your own handwriting, and does not require the two witnesses.
There is one other exception; Continue reading