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Durable Power of Attorney - Utah Estate Planning Lawyer

Creating a durable power of attorney is an important part of the estate planning process in Utah. But because a durable power of attorney ceases to be effective immediately upon your death, it does not serve as a substitute for a last will and testament or living trust. To find out more about estate planning in Utah and how a durable power of attorney can be a part of your personalized estate plan, contact Utah estate planning attorney Stephen Howard for an initial consultation.

The Basics - Powers of Attorney in Utah

A power of attorney is a written document executed by you (the "principal") that grants authority to another person (the "attorney-in-fact" or "agent") to act on behalf your behalf. The authority of the agent is determined by the language of the document. A power of attorney can be written broadly, giving authority to the agent to do almost anything that the principal could do. Or the power of attorney can be written narrowly, to give the agent authority to perform only certain specified acts. The principal may be bound by actions of the agent in the same manner as if the principal had taken the actions himself or herself.

Death or Incapacity - Ordinary v. Durable Powers of Attorney in Utah

An ordinary power of attorney becomes void if the principal becomes incapacitated. However, Utah law makes provisions for a "durable" power of attorney that remains effective in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. However, any power of attorney, even a durable power of attorney, is void upon the death of the principal. A durable power of attorney should not, therefore, be considered a substitute for a will and living trust. Nor can a power of attorney be used to avoid probate.

Benefits of Executing a Durable Power of Attorney in Utah

In most situations, most people would prefer to act on their own behalf - both in ordinary daily decisions and activities as well as in more significant decisions. But situations may arise when you are either not able to decide or act for yourself, or you may not be available to execute decisions or sign documents on your own behalf. Travel out-of-state travel or travel to another country may make it impossible for you to sign time-sensitive documents yourself. By executing a power of attorney beforehand, you make it possible for another person to act on your behalf. If you are incapacitated by illness or accident, you may temporarily (or permanently) be unable to manage your own affairs. A durable power of attorney properly executed before your incapacity may enable you to avoid the necessity of going through a guardianship proceeding in the court system.

Risks in Executing a Power of Attorney

When executing a power of attorney in Utah, it is important to keep in mind that you will be bound by the actions of your agent. The greater the breadth of authority granted under a power of attorney, the greater the risk that an unscrupulous agent may use the power of attorney in a way that adversely affects your interest. This does not mean that you should not execute a power of attorney. Instead, you should take great care in selecting an agent to act on your behalf, and give careful consideration to the extent of authority you will give your agent under your power of attorney.

Picking an Agent for a Utah Power of Attorney

Choosing an agent to act under your power of attorney is an important decision. Because you will be bound by your agent's actions, your agent must be a person you consider to be completely trustworthy. For many people, a spouse, adult child, or other trusted family member is a good choice for an agent to act under a durable power of attorney.

How to Revoke a Power of Attorney in Utah

Under Utah law, a durable power of attorney can be terminated in a number of ways. It may contain within the document itself an expiration date, after which the power of attorney will be void. If the document contains no termination date, the power of attorney may revoked at any time by giving notice of the revocation to the agent. It is best to give notice to the agent in writing, and to provide copies of the revocation notice to any persons or entities that may have been given a copy of the power of attorney. If possible, it is also a good idea to collect any copies of the power of attorney and destroy them along with the original power of attorney document.

Finding an Estate Planning Lawyer to Create a Power of Attorney

Based in Salt Lake City, estate planning attorney Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. To learn more about how a durable power of attorney, last will and testament, and living trust can each play an important role in your estate plan, contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

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