Estate Planning Lawyers Create Effective West Virginia Powers of Attorney
Charleston law firm helps you protect your interests in the event of incapacity
At some moment in your life, you could become incapacitated and unable to manage your health and financial affairs. If that should occur, having an agent with power of attorney can help ensure your health and welfare are in the hands of someone you trust. At Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe in Charleston, West Virginia, our estate planning attorneys help clients see to these important safeguards. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience, we can draft powers of attorney that appoint trustworthy individuals to manage your finances, oversee your property and make healthcare decisions in accordance with your preferences.
Types of West Virginia powers of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that transfers decision-making authority from one person, called the principal, to another, called the agent or attorney-in-fact. West Virginia law recognizes two major types of powers of attorney, based upon the purposes for which they are created:
- General power of attorney — The Uniform Power of Attorney Act provides for this type of power of attorney, which designates someone to take charge of your financial affairs. It can be “limited” or “unlimited” depending on the scope of authority you want to give your agent. A general power of attorney is useful for people who have a particular need for someone else to manage their finances or property. The agent is a fiduciary, which means they have a legal duty to act for the benefit of the principal and can be held personally liable for negligent acts. This power of attorney terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Healthcare power of attorney — The West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act authorizes the creation of a healthcare power of attorney, also known as medical power of attorney, which gives the agent the authority to make healthcare decisions for the principal. This authority terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated.
If you wish to keep the power of attorney in place during a period of incapacity, you must go one step further and create a power of attorney that is explicitly “durable.” A durable power of attorney grants the agent the same authority but remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. The authority is terminated only if the incapacitated person dies.
If you want someone to step in and manage your affairs only if you become incapacitated, you can create a “springing” power of attorney, which transfers authority when a specified qualifying event occurs.
Adding a living will to your estate plan
In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, you might want to execute a living will to provide instructions on the type of lifesaving interventions you find acceptable. Based on your age and overall health, you might decide that any and all options are on the table. However, older individuals who are in poor health might decide that only medical interventions are acceptable and that they do not want more extreme measures taken, such as intubation or defibrillation.
Contact Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe to discuss powers of attorney
Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe in Charleston, West Virginia drafts powers of attorney and living wills for our estate planning clients. We’ve been a trusted fixture in the community for over 30 years and are ready to help you prepare for the future. Call us at 304-344-0100 or contact us online to learn more.