When it is Time to Change Your Power of AttorneyTwo critical pieces of any estate plan are the powers of attorney for medical care and for finances.  These designations are essential because they allow you to name the person you want to make choices about these subjects for you if you become incapacitated.  After they are designated, the people in these roles will have the power to act on your behalf regarding critical aspects of your life.  However, circumstances can arise which will necessitate a change to your powers of attorney.

Powers of Attorney

  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances (POA) is the document which names another person to make decisions for you regarding fiduciary matters. This can mean making routine decisions such as paying bills for you or about more complex matters such as your business or investment interest.
  • A medical power of attorney in Michigan is called a Patient Advocate Designation (PAD). The PAD allows the designated person to direct your medical treatment which may include making decisions regarding life-saving measures.

Changes in Marital Status

One reason you may want to change the designation for these devices is due to a change in marital status.  In many circumstances, an individual will name their spouse in one or both of these documents.  If you were to get married, you may want to have your spouse designated to make these decisions for you.  Under Michigan law, if you are divorcing or already divorced your former spouse will automatically be removed from these designations.

Changes in the Law

The area of law which governs POAs and PADs is complicated and requirements surrounding these documents can and do frequently change. Therefore, it is advisable that you consult with an estate planning attorney every few years to ensure that your documents comply with the law.  Otherwise, you risk not knowing if these critical documents are valid.  By not acting, you could end up without designees at a time when you cannot make decisions for yourself.

Change for the Designee

Another reason you may need to change your POA or PAD is that your relationship with the person you designated has changed since the documents were executed.  You may no longer feel comfortable with them in this role.  It may also be that the designee cannot be an active part of regular decision-making on your behalf due to their own illness or having moved too far away.  They may also have died since you executed the POA or PAD.

To protect your interest, it is essential that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help you properly amend your POA and PAD.  We have knowledge and experience preparing and updating these invaluable estate planning documents and can help.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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