Allison Park Power of Attorney Lawyers Put Decision-making Authority in Trustworthy Hands

What is a power of attorney in Pennsylvania?

With more than 50 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC in Allison Park prepare power of attorney documents that protect clients and their loved ones in Allegheny, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. By executing a power of attorney, a principal grants legal authority to a named agent for a particular purpose. You might wish to create one if you want someone to handle a complex legal or financial matter on your behalf. This authority can be granted immediately, or you can draft a document that only confers power on the agent if you become incapacitated and need someone to handle medical treatment decisions and other key concerns for you. Our firm assists prospective principals and agents so they can finalize documents suited to their circumstances and needs.

What are the duties of a power of attorney?

Pennsylvania law requires that an agent exercising power of attorney act in the best interests of the principal and in accordance with the principal’s expectations. They must not exceed the scope of authority given to them in the power of attorney document. If their responsibility includes handling the principal’s financial affairs, it is critical for the agent to maintain accurate records and keep their personal funds separate from the principal’s assets.

What are the different types of power of attorney documents?

Common types of power of attorney documents include:

  • Medical — When you are undergoing a medical procedure that might affect your ability to communicate, a healthcare power of attorney can put critical decisions in the hands of someone you trust. You can also address your preferences regarding particular types of treatments.
  • Financial — Whether due to age, physical condition or the complexity of the subject matter, some people choose to execute a power of attorney that authorizes an agent to handle their financial affairs. These grants of authority can be written broadly or cover one particular transaction.
  • Springing — Typically, a power of attorney goes into effect once it is signed in front of two witnesses and notarized. However, a springing power of attorney is activated when a future event occurs, such as the principal’s incapacity due to injury or illness.

You can create a durable power of attorney, which would remain in force even if you lose the mental ability to make sound decisions. Otherwise, the power of attorney would dissolve once you become incapacitated.

Revoking a power of attorney

Certain power of attorney documents are specifically designed to sunset after a certain period of time or a given event. However, even if there are no termination provisions, the principal who grants a power of attorney can revoke their agent’s authority simply by executing a new document and serving it on the agent. Whether you believe you are capable of handling your own affairs or have decided that you want a different person to take control, we can help you prepare, execute and distribute the necessary paperwork.

Power of attorney versus guardianship or conservatorship

Sometimes, people who are concerned about someone else’s incapacity are unsure if a durable power of attorney is the right solution or if they should petition for legal authority over the person, which can be referred to as guardianship or conservatorship (“guardianship of the estate” under Pennsylvania law).  A key difference is that a power of attorney is a private document while guardianship or conservatorship requires a court order issued by a judge. Accordingly, undoing a power of attorney if circumstances change is much simpler. Moreover, a power of attorney can be tailored much more narrowly.

Contact a Pennsylvania attorney to discuss a power of attorney document   

Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC in Allison Park works with Pennsylvanians and their families to create personalized power of attorney documents. Please call 412-281-8222 or contact us online for a consultation. 

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