Assigning Power of Attorney (PoA) With Confidence

Incapacity planning, ensuring that there’s a strategy in place if you ever become incapable of managing your affairs, is important.

We all know that. Yet, it’s uncomfortable to think about and therefore easy to put off doing.

A key part of incapacity planning is assigning power of attorney (a legal document giving someone else the right to act on your behalf), but it’s also the biggest hurdle. Giving extra thought to who you choose, and what powers they’ll be granted, can give you the peace of mind to complete your plan with confidence.

Choosing your lawyer

Choosing someone you trust to assign power of attorney is essential. Acting as your attorney involves significant duties and obligations. Your attorney’s overarching duty is to act with honesty, integrity and in good faith for your benefit if you become incapable.

The law lays out specific obligations for the person chosen to hold your power of attorney. Among other things, they will:

  • explain their powers and duties to the incapable person
  • encourage the incapable person, to the best of their abilities, to participate in decisions concerning their property
  • foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends, and
  • keep account of all transactions involving the grantor’s property.

The attorney or attorneys you choose to act on your behalf should know these rules, and be aware of other rules set out in the act as well.

For instance, they’re expected to ensure you have a will and, if so, know its provisions. The main reason for this is that your attorney must not sell or transfer property that’s subject to a specific gift in the will, unless necessary.

The act also contains explicit instructions regarding both required and optional expenditures. Examples of the latter include charitable gifts where an incapable person made similar expenditures when capable and so long as sufficient assets are available. Your attorney should also be familiar with rules covering how or when he or she can resign, what compensation they may be entitled to and the standard of care expected of them.

Safeguarding your estate

You can also build a second opinion directly into your power of attorney documents by appointing more than one person. If you name two or more people, they’ll need to act unanimously unless the document states otherwise.

A joint appointment provides a level of protection in that any appointed attorneys must agree on all actions, while a “joint and several” appointment grants flexibility, allowing any one attorney to conduct business independently.

Many people choose to appoint the same people or trust companies to be both their power of attorneys and their executors. Although you don’t need to do so, the same list of key traits – expertise, availability, accountability and trustworthiness – apply to both roles.

It’s also possible to limit the powers granted to your attorney. If you’d like your attorney to act only for a specified time period (maybe a vacation or hospital stay) or in respect of a specific transaction (the closing of a real estate deal), a limited or specific power of attorney is worth considering.

In the case of a general continuing power of attorney, many people want the document to be used only if and when they become incapable of managing their affairs themselves.

Although the document is effective when signed, it is possible to include provisions in the document itself that defers it to a future date or the occurrence of a specified condition (for example, the grantor has a stroke). These are sometimes referred to as “springing” powers of attorney.

Whichever way you prepare your power of attorney documents, careful consideration of who you choose as well as availing yourself of available safeguards will help ensure your confidence in your incapacity plan.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Making a quick decision: Many people name their PoAs without thinking about their choice’s financial capability, much less their ability to get along with other family members.
  2. Assuming family is always the best choice: It’s far more important to choose someone who truly has your client’s best interests at heart.
  3. Waiting too long: If there’s already a question of diminishing capacity, it’s likely too late to make a power of attorney ironclad.
  4. Not reviewing it: Changing life circumstances and new provincial legislation can make an old PoA invalid.

Plan for Incapacity

Your estate plan doesn’t end with an up-to-date will. It should also anticipate possible future incapacity, which usually means preparing powers of attorney for both property and personal care.

Power of attorney, a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf, has two main types: one for management of property, another for personal care.

Will and estate planners generally advise preparing both types of powers of attorney. While they are often prepared at the same time as your will, they can be created at any time.

Personal care

With a power of attorney for personal care, you can authorize someone to make decisions concerning your personal care in the event that you become incapable of making them yourself.

You can give power of attorney for personal care if you’re at least 16 years old, have “the ability to understand whether the proposed attorney has a genuine concern” for your welfare, and can appreciate that the attorney may need to make decisions.

Personal care includes decisions concerning health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety.

Property

A continuing power of attorney for property authorizes someone to do anything regarding your property that you could do if capable, except make a will.

The law says you’re capable of giving a power of attorney for property if you’re at least 18 years of age, know what kind of property you have, along with its rough value, and are aware of any obligations owed to your dependants.

The term “continuing” (sometimes called “enduring”) refers to a power of attorney that may be exercised during the grantor’s subsequent incapacity to manage property. Ensure the document stipulates that you want the power of attorney to be used only if you become incapable.

What you need to know

A continuing power of attorney for property is a powerful document. Unless otherwise stated in the document, it’s effective when signed, granting considerable power.

In fact, the act explicitly requires you to acknowledge this authority can be misused. And, as part of the capacity test for granting a continuing power of attorney, you must also acknowledge the property you own may decline in value if not properly managed.

A financial institution, land titles office or other third party presented with a continuing power of attorney for property with the restriction “effective only in the event of the grantor’s incapacity” will want evidence of the incapacity.

That evidence could be hard to get. One solution is to set out terms of use in a separate document and have all original copies of the power of attorney held by a trusted third party. You could, for example, direct that document be released only if:

  • You tell the attorney you want him or her to start acting;
  • You are legally declared incapable of managing your property;
  • One or more doctors advise that you’d benefit from assistance in managing your affairs; or
  • Certain family members advise the attorney should begin acting.

No direction could be costly

If you fail to prepare power of attorney documents, it may take an application to court before someone can be appointed to make decisions for you. That can leave you scrambling when you’re in no physical shape do so. Having a will doesn’t help because an executor is only authorized to act after you die.

On top of that, court processes can be both costly and time-consuming. Depending on the circumstances, the Public Guardian and Trustee may have to get involved.

You also lose the opportunity to appoint people or companies of your choosing and aren’t able to establish parameters regarding the actions of your substitute decision makers.

The Best Advice For You When Getting A Personal Injury Lawyer

Imagine if randomly while you were minding your own business, you get hit on the head by a rock that came from the construction site you walked passed. This incident where you have been a victim is called personal injury which is due to the negligence of another person, a company or government entity or faulty products.

A better deal will be arrived at if you get a personal injury lawyer Defendants are known to not be giving when it comes to compensation. A lawyer can help you get compensation for expenses like medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost income, emotional or psychological distress, inability to perform or enjoy certain activities, as well as for damaged property among others.

With personal injury cases, they can be looked at in different ways. Getting compensation will need for you to learn a couple of factors. These include the type of accident, the nature of the injury sustained, and the effects of the injury to your work or everyday living.

To make thins easier it is best to just seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer. Apart from the legal representation they provide, they can also build up a stronger case complete with documentations. These lawyers are also able to see the right resolutions that will warrant more gains for you.

It is always good advice to check the lawyers who you will potentially work with. Sometimes lawyer have specializations like medical malpractice, product defects, work related injuries. You have to know what cases your lawyers is most experienced in.

The necessary education, certification and licenses are all required so that personal injury lawyers can practice. You will gain nothing if you deal with flybynight practitioners so beware. Aside from these, here are other questions that you should ask an attorney before hiring him/her

Have you ever handled a similar case like mine and how did it end? How long will this case last until it is fixed? Is there much compensation I can get?

What are the requirements to making this case strong? Will you allow me to pay you in a conditional fee scheme? How much will you tax me?

Will I incur other expenses? What is your rate per session? What if we do not agree with each other will I still be follow?

Moreover, remember that when working with personal injury lawyers, it is important to put everything on print. It is important that you are able to keep track of everything so as not to have problems with your lawyers in the future. Relationships between personal injury lawyers and their clients should be treated as a partnership, and thus, should be sealed by utmost trust and confidence.

Accident, Injury & Settlement Tips – I Want To Fire My Attorney!

A previous article in this series explored what your attorney should be doing for you in a personal injury (PI) case. This article addresses how to deal with an attorney who’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.

It’s always amazed me how some PI attorneys sit on a case. Think about it. PI attorneys are usually paid on a contingent fee – meaning, they get a percentage of whatever they can get for you. Why then would your attorney let your case sit idle? To be sure, the attorney’s overhead expenses aren’t sitting idle.

The answer falls neatly into two categories – either your attorney is too busy, or he’s too lazy. While the former is certainly better than the latter, neither is good for you.

Here’s the steps you should take if you suspect your attorney is too busy or too lazy:

1. Speak to or meet with a top PI attorney in your area to find out what a real attorney would be doing on your case.

These consultations are almost always free.

How do you find the top attorney in your area? Not on TV and not in the Yellow Pages. If you like, you may call me or email me and I’d be glad to help you. The best way to email me is to get your claim value by filling out the 10 questions in the Claim Calculator link below. That will give me both your email address and specific information about your case (amount of property damage, medical bills, wage loss, etc.) I’m able to find, through trial lawyer association list-serves and other means, the top attorneys in every area of the United States. I communicate directly with the attorney about your case particulars, and if he’s willing to meet with you, I connect you with the attorney so you can schedule a time to meet or speak about your case.

How do you know an attorney is one of the best in your area? Simple – he posts his million dollar results right on his website. Attorneys that I help people find are the best – their results speak for themselves. An attorney that doesn’t post their results on their website is not proud of their results. You can rest assured an attorney that has repeatedly recovered over a million dollars for individual clients knows how to successfully handle your file. Successful attorneys also have reputations that insurance companies are aware of. That reputation can make a big difference when the insurance company is deciding whether to settle for a reasonable amount or jerk around your lazy attorney until he persuades you to take a low-ball settlement.

2. Fire him or make him quit?

What happens if you hire him? It varies state by state, so check with the new attorney you meet with. Typically, attorneys are entitled to be compensated for the work they’ve done on the case up till the time you fire him. Usually, this is determined by the number of hours he worked multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate (based on his experience). He must release the file to you (it belongs to you). He may keep a copy of the file, but usually the ethical rules require the copying be done at his expense. The attorney can place a “lien” for the time he spent on your case – which is only paid if and when you get a recovery with your new attorney.

Important: If your new attorney really wants your case (and you ask for it), the new attorney will often pay the old attorney lien out of the new attorney’s 1/3 fee. In other words, switching attorneys won’t cost you anything extra. In fact, for the same 1/3 attorney fee you were always going to pay, you now have a much better attorney who will get you even more compensation for your injuries.

What happens if he quits? If your attorney quits, he can’t claim an attorney lien for the work he has done. If your attorney quits, you don’t have to worry whether your new attorney will agree to absorb the attorney lien within his contingent fee. And the new attorney doesn’t have to worry about fighting the old attorney on an unreasonable attorney lien.

A lazy attorney will usually grow tired of a client who persistently calls the attorney demanding proof the case is moving forward. Frequent calls to the attorney usually do the trick, although it never hurts to “pop by” the attorney’s office and ask to meet with the attorney, or if he’s not available, his paralegal. If no one’s available by phone or in person, insist on a day / time to meet in person. Tell them you’d like to review the entire file. When you do meet (or speak by phone), find out when the attorney intends to file suit. Filing suit forces the insurance company to hire an attorney (i.e. pay money). It also triggers deadlines the insurance company must meet. Without deadlines, the insurance company is happy to keep your money in the stock market – which is really how insurance companies have historically built wealth. That’s why insurance adjusters are trained to delay the claim as long as possible. By repeatedly demanding that your attorney file suit, or withdraw from the case so you can hire an attorney that will, you may be able to get rid of that lazy attorney.

Feel free to contact me (through the free Claim Calculator below) if you have any questions.

Divorce Tips For Men – 3 Surefire Ways to Get the Best Possible Lawyer

If you are thinking of commencing divorce proceedings then before you do anything you need to find a good divorce lawyer to act on your behalf. As you will soon discover there are plenty of good lawyers around but not all of these are suitable for helping you to deal with the complexities of divorce. In this article we offer some divorce tips for men that could ensure that they find a great divorce lawyer.

Tip 1 – It is important that as this is such a stressful time you need to find a lawyer who will remain calm throughout the proceedings. So interview several and deal with the one who you feel most comfortable with discussing personal issues regarding your marriage. Also look for a lawyer who is going to be willing to spend time answering your questions and understands how important it is you get the best divorce settlement possible.

Tip 2 – As well as the lawyer understanding the intricacies and complexities of divorce laws you need one who is going to be honest with you. The only ones that can truly be honest are those who understand the various laws relating to divorce and how they can affect the outcome of yours. Ideally you should choose a lawyer who specializes in divorce proceedings as they will be able to help you cope with the stress that such proceedings will place you under more easily.

Tip 3 – Of course the other thing one needs to take into consideration when trying to find a good divorce lawyer is your budget. If you are at all worried about paying their fees then look for someone who instead of charging you by the hour will charge a flat rate, but make sure they tell you what services they provide for this fee.

Foreclosure Defense For Homeowners

What is about to surface could be named as an alarming statistics, or reality disclosure and a warning for homeowners. This is RealtyTrac’s annual U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for 2008 indicating that 2,330,483 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure. This would amount to an 81 percent increase from 2007 and 225 percent higher than the total number in 2006. The statistics for 2009 are looking even steeper, and there are no signs of relief in the near future. With these unfortunate statistics, homeowners need to know their legal rights and options and it is high time for them to be aware of the foreclosure defense practices that they can put into action.

Homeowners off course would want to save their home at any cost, and some do it to shed of the burden of unreasonable mortgage payments and preserving credit. Solutions are there, but only after proper analysis of individual financial situations. Attorneys can design the best suitable program for you to go for a once and for all settlement.

One solution that can be given a head start for you is a mutually beneficial payment plan. The lender and the borrower can enter into a mutually beneficial payment plan that will in turn help if a person is struggling to make home payments and may be facing foreclosure, or to revise the terms of original loan agreement in order to make manageable mortgage payments to the lender. This is known as loan modification and can be done whether or not a person is behind in the loan payments, based on his or her financial situation, current hardships, and ability to make smaller payments.

Determine whether or not you are the victim of predatory lending by getting forensic loan audit done on original loan documents. If you are a victim then a lawsuit can be files against the lender and to put a stop to the foreclosure process for the duration of the suit.

Another grave thing to understand here is that the homeowners get confused in the moments of distress of whether to hire a foreclosure attorney or a loan modification firm to assist them in saving their home. Under many state and federal laws, loan modification firms cannot advise you of your legal rights or represent you in court to fight foreclosure. Attorneys can therefore help you in relieving you of your ongoing anxiety of facing foreclosure. Attorneys are adept at navigating their way through what might seem impossible for homeowners falling at the risk of a foreclosure, all the while taking the immense burden off your shoulders. They look at the various aspects of your loan agreement and give you the best possible leverage and position when negotiating the terms of your loan with your lender. But the question is getting the right attorney and making it sure of their being licensed which makes them entitled to represent you in court or provide you with the right loan modification plan that can help you from coming out of the mess with the risk of facing the unfortunate foreclosure. Attorneys can therefore, litigate your foreclosure case, and help keep you in your home.