(251) 215-9275

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to designate someone you know and trust to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot.

Establishing a POA while you still have mental capacity can help avoid the need for a court-appointed conservator or guardian if you become incapacitated in the future.

Let’s review some important information every Alabama resident should know about creating valid POAs.

Why Do You Need a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney gives authority to an “agent,” also called an “attorney-in-fact,” to make decisions and act on your behalf. It allows you to designate someone to handle financial and medical matters when you cannot make your own decisions.

Reasons why a person would execute a POA include:

  • It avoids needing a court-appointed conservatorship or guardianship when you become incapacitated. These legal proceedings are often time-consuming and expensive.
  • It allows you to choose the person who will make decisions on paying bills, managing bank accounts, selling property, and handling other matters if you experience diminished capacity or are too ill or hurt to carry out financial decisions or transactions for yourself.
  • It prepares for the possibility that you may be unable to care for yourself in the future due to an unexpected accident or illness like a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are a few types of POAs in Alabama to be aware of:

Financial Power of Attorney

This document gives your agent comprehensive authority to make financial, legal, and other decisions specified in the document.

Limited or Specific POA

A POA can be drafted on a limited basis to only empower your agent to handle one or more specific matters, such as selling a particular property.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable POA remains effective even if you later become incapacitated or incompetent. Based on Alabama’s POA statute, all POAs are durable unless otherwise specifically designated.

Springing Power of Attorney

It “springs” into action on the happening of some event, usually when you have become incapacitated. It grants no authority to the agent until the event occurs. If the POA is not springing, it grants the person ongoing authority to act immediately after executing the POA.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical or healthcare power of attorney is used to designate an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf.

How to Create a Valid POA in Alabama

If you want to establish a POA in Alabama, necessary steps include:

Naming an agent

Appoint someone ethical, responsible, and trustworthy to manage matters in your best interest. Often, this is a spouse, adult child, close friend or relative.

Using proper legal forms

POA documents must comply with Alabama laws to be valid. Consider having an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney prepare your POA to ensure it is legally enforceable.

Signing with notarization

You must still have full mental capacity when you sign your POA form and must sign it before a notary public to verify your identity and awareness.

Informing your agent and others

Let the person you name as your agent know about their appointment and responsibilities. Consider giving copies of the POA document out ahead of time including to your agent, bank, doctors, stockbrokers, financial advisor, accountant, etc.

Revoking if desired

You can revoke your POA anytime as long as you still have mental capacity. It’s a good idea to notify your named agent and the institutions you gave copies about the revocation.

An estate planning attorney can help craft a customized POA that aligns with your overall estate plan and supports your goals. They can ensure your documents follow Alabama laws and answer any other state-specific POA questions.

Choosing an Agent for Your Power of Attorney

Selecting the right agent is one of the most influential decisions when creating your power of attorney. Take time to consider who should serve as your agent or attorney-in-fact carefully. Most choose an adult child, spouse, close friend, or trusted relative.

Qualities to look for include:

  • Integrity – Agents must be ethical and agree to act with your best interests in mind. They should put their priorities first if they lose the capacity to make impartial decisions themselves.
  • Responsibility – Your agent should be organized and responsible. You want someone who will diligently manage your financial, legal, and medical matters and provide regular updates to other family members.
  • Impartial Judgment – Choose someone unlikely to be swayed by their interests over yours or unduly influenced by other family members. The top priority should be carrying out your wishes.
  • Availability – Ideally, pick an in-state agent who could readily handle matters for you and make any required in-person visits to your home or long-term care facility.
  • Willingness – The person should agree to take on duties as your agent if you become incapacitated and do not have reservations about handling sensitive matters. Make sure they clearly understand what POA responsibilities entail before formally naming them as your attorney-in-fact.

When Does an Agent’s Authority End?

Unless expressly stated otherwise in the document, an agent’s authority under a POA typically ends when:

  • You pass away – Authority instantly ends upon your death, though your will, trust, or intestate laws would oversee the transfer of any property.
  • You revoke the POA – You can cancel POA authority anytime if you still have the mental competency and capacity to make your own decisions.
  • You designate an end date – You can specify an expiration date for the POA, such as December 31, 2030.
  • Your agent can no longer serve – If your original POA agent dies or becomes incapacitated and unable to act on your behalf, their authority usually ends.
  • Agent resigns – Your chosen agent can resign by giving you written notice.

Be sure to immediately notify any people or institutions relying on an agent’s authority if the POA ends for any reason. You should promptly name and authorize a new POA agent so there is no gap in handling crucial matters.

Contact an Alabama Estate Planning Attorney Today

The experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Brenton C. McWilliams help Alabama residents protect themselves and their families with thoughtful POA estate planning and elder law guidance.

Request a consultation or case evaluation to discuss your power of attorney and related planning. We are happy to answer your questions and provide reliable legal services regarding POAs tailored to your unique needs and priorities.