Power of Attorney in Alabama
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Power of Attorneys in Alabama are basically legal documents individuals can execute to allow other people to make decisions for them on their behalf. When you assign someone as power of attorney, you are giving them the legal right to make decisions for you, which is a big deal. They are considered your “agent.” Your agent can be anyone you trust who is an adult and they do not have to be related to. Which power of attorney is right for you depends on your circumstances. You should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you decide which power of attorney best suits your needs.
What does having power of attorney over someone mean and what can you do if you have it? Two of the most common types of power of attorney in Alabama are springing and durable powers of attorney. A springing power of attorney springs into action if you become incapacitated. With a springing power of attorney, you will want to define what kind of situation, event, or incapacitation triggers the power of attorney to go into effect. If you do not clearly define your wishes, it could slow down the process and the courts could get involved in defining what incapacitated means instead. You can also execute a power of attorney in Alabama that grants someone powers immediately. This is sometimes called a General Power of Attorney and is when someone needs to appoint another to make health or financial decisions for them immediately for one reason or another.
Unlike a General Power of Attorney in Alabama, a springing power of attorney to go into effect you have to be declared incapacitated by someone medically qualified to make that determination. This is usually a physician, which may slow down the process if one or more of your physicians disagree on your level of incapacitation. Some people prefer the springing power of attorney because it does not allow the agent to have power of attorney over them until they are incapacitated. There is something to consider about this. If you are concerned that your agent would abuse their power of attorney responsibilities while you are lucid, what would they do when you are unable to monitor their actions or question their decisions? There are good reasons to use a springing power of attorney, but if you want to use it due to trust issues with the agent, perhaps you should consider appointing another person.
The other type of power of attorney is sometimes called a durable one. There are two types of durable powers of attorney, a general and one for healthcare decisions. Both are governed by Alabama Code Section 26-1-2. If you authorize someone to make your healthcare decisions, they can make small decisions for you and even the most serious decisions like whether or not to take you off life support. Similar to a living will, it is important to lay out your wishes very specifically in the healthcare power of attorney. When it comes to power of attorneys in Alabama, agents are not subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability for their actions as your agent as long as they are acting under a valid power of attorney and didn’t try to falsify, forge, conceal, amend, or revoke anything without your consent.
As for a durable power of attorney for general purposes, those can be used to allow your agent to handle your personal affairs for you. In most states, they can become effective upon signing the document and this is sometimes called a General Power of Attorney. Once the document is signed, the agent can present the document any time they need to make decisions on your behalf. That is why it is important to only select someone you trust as your agent. When they have your signed power of attorney, they can do everything from paying your monthly bills on your behalf to buying and selling land in your name. Anything you can legally do, they can do for you. And depending on the language of the document, you may not have to be declared incapacitated for your agent to use their power of attorney privilege.
The rules governing powers of attorney vary from state to state. In Alabama, the Uniform Power of Attorney Act of 2012 made significant changes to how powers of attorney are handled and interpreted in Alabama. Some of the most notable features of the new law are: 1) The Act applies to all powers of attorney executed on or after January 1, 2012. 2) Unless expressly provided otherwise, all powers of attorney are durable and thus not terminated by the principal’s incapacity. 3) A power of attorney is effective when signed, unless the power expressly indicates that it is springing. 4) Notarization is not required to create a valid power of attorney. However, an acknowledged power of attorney is strongly encouraged because an acknowledged signature carried a presumption of genuineness.
Powers of attorney in Alabama can be revoked by you (the grantor) at any time by giving written notice to your agent and written notice to anywhere they were acting on your behalf. For example, if they were signing checks and paying bills for you, you would want to send written notice to the bank that your agent’s power of attorney had been revoked. If the grantor does not revoke an agent’s power of attorney over them, the agent’s power of attorney over the grantor will end at the time of the grantor’s death. Whoever is to make decisions after that must make decisions on behalf of the grantor’s estate, so that person would be considered the estate’s personal representative aka executor and is a separately designated person. If you have any questions, our local Alabama attorney can give you a quick phone consultation today.
Getting a Power of Attorney in Alabama
Most attorneys charge a flat fee to create a power of attorney of any kind that addresses your needs and concerns. We are currently charging flat fees as well to prepare a general power of attorney or springing one such as Durable Financial Power of Attorney in Alabama for people to execute on their own. If you want to execute it in our office and meet with our attorney then there is an additional charge for the consultation. Whether you want to do it all online and over the phone or meet in person, we can help you at any of our offices across the State of Alabama.
Our estate planning attorneys know Alabama-specific law governing powers of attorney, and which types are most suitable for your circumstances. Getting a power of attorney form from an online legal site may not adequately address your specific situation and could prevent your wishes from being carried out or delayed if there is a legal issue with the document. That is why it is best to go with an experienced Alabama attorney who keeps up with the local changes is easily available to answer your Alabama specific questions.
Whether you live in Birmingham, Cullman, Jasper, Huntsville, Decatur, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Prattville, Anniston, Gadsden, Talladega, Mobile, Dothan, Auburn, or anywhere else in the State of Alabama we can prepare your Power of Attorney for you. Unfortunately, if you live in another state then you we may not be able to prepare one for you since you would need a local attorney who is familiar with the rules where you live. If you live in the State of Alabama and need a power of attorney, then give us a call today.
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