Power of Attorney Laws in South Carolina

By Holly Cameron

If you grant a power of attorney, you transfer control of all or some of your affairs to another person. The individual who takes over control is known as the agent or the attorney in fact, and is usually a family member, close friend or professional adviser. The person who signs the document is known as the principal. Powers of attorney can cover either financial affairs including bank accounts and taxation, or can deal with health care issues such as choice of treatment.

If you grant a power of attorney, you transfer control of all or some of your affairs to another person. The individual who takes over control is known as the agent or the attorney in fact, and is usually a family member, close friend or professional adviser. The person who signs the document is known as the principal. Powers of attorney can cover either financial affairs including bank accounts and taxation, or can deal with health care issues such as choice of treatment.

General Provisions

Section 62-5-501 of the South Carolina Probate Code sets out the law regarding durable powers of attorney for financial affairs. A durable power of attorney remains in force even if the principal becomes physically disabled or mentally incompetent. To be durable, the power of attorney must contain certain specific words as described in Section 62-5-501. The exact terms of the power of attorney vary according to individual circumstances but usually the document will list the scope of the agent’s duties. These might include dealing with bank accounts, signing tax returns and corresponding with insurance companies.

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Signing Requirements

The principal must be over 18 when he signs the document. Powers of attorney in South Carolina should be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses. The agent may not sign as a witness, nor may any person who might benefit from the principal’s death. Powers of attorney in South Carolina should also be recorded as a public deed in the county where the principal lives at the time of signing.

Payment of the Agent

According to Section 62-5-501 (G), an agent is entitled to receive payment for his services and reimbursement of expenses. Usually the power of attorney specifies the amount and method of payment. If it does not, the probate court will decide on the agent’s payment, based upon his responsibilities and the work carried out.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Section 62-5-502 of the South Carolina Probate Code allows its residents to sign a health care power of attorney that hands over control of health-related decisions to a trusted person. A health care power of attorney only springs into effect if the principal becomes mentally incompetent and unable to make decisions for himself. In these circumstances, the agent can make decisions regarding the principal’s treatment. Section 62-5-5-2 (D) contains a statutory form for a health care power of attorney.

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Automatic Power of Attorney Due to Health

References

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How to Appoint a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows one person to act on behalf of another person in various matters, including health or finances. You may give another person, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, power of attorney as long as you're mentally competent. You must draft a power of attorney document that meets the legal requirements in your state in order to give your agent authority.

Does a Surgeon Have to Tell You to Do a Power of Attorney If You Are to Have Heart Surgery?

If you are scheduled for serious or risky surgery, it is a good idea to discuss the merits of an advance healthcare directive with your physician. One option is a durable power of attorney that authorizes a trusted friend to make decisions on your behalf while you are incapacitated; another is a living will. However, your surgeon cannot obligate you to execute either legal document.

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You may wish to complete and sign a power of attorney if you would like someone else to have the power to act on your behalf. A power of attorney grants authority to one person, called the attorney in fact or agent. This person has the power to act on behalf of another person, called the principal. The Nevada legislature enacted the Power of Attorney Act. This law controls how these powers of attorney must be handled to be valid.

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