Can POA Supercede Spousal Rights?

By Teo Spengler

A power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document you create to appoint a trusted individual to act for you, generally in financial or medical matters. Your power of attorney cannot authorize anyone to act for your spouse, nor does your spouse have the right to terminate or alter your power of attorney.

Medical Power of Attorney

While it can be difficult to contemplate end-of-life decisions during a period of health and vigor, many people become incapacitated as they age. One way to prepare is to draft a power of attorney for medical decisions, termed a health care directive in some states. This document gives the person you name the right to make your health care decisions when you cannot make them for yourself. Your spouse has no automatic right to power-of-attorney status; every adult can choose her own health care agent.

Financial Power of Attorney

Financial powers of attorney can confer broad authority, giving your agent power to manage your finances if you are incapacitated. They can also be narrowly drawn, authorizing someone to do just one act for you, like selling your car. In either case, your agent's authority is limited to managing your assets and does not spill over to your spouse's half of the marital holdings, let alone his separate property. Neither spouse has the legal right to manage the other spouse's financial affairs.

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A Durable Power of Attorney for the State of Virginia
 

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What Is Needed for the Power of Attorney When a Spouse is Incapacitated?

Without proper planning, incapacity can lead to confusion as to the wishes of an incapacitated spouse. For that reason, powers of attorney are drafted to avoid making the wrong decisions on both health care and financial matters after a spouse becomes incapacitated. However, a POA must be executed while the individual has capacity. Families often prefer a POA over the burdensome and costly alternative of petitioning the court to appoint a conservator. Spouses are generally favored in the granting of both conservatorships and guardianships.

What Is a Revocable Power of Attorney Form?

A revocable power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document that appoints an agent, or attorney-in-fact, to handle transactions on your behalf. The agent can be any trustworthy person or institution you choose. Most states require POA documents to be in writing and specify certain requirements for creating and revoking POAs. Be sure your power of attorney form and any revocation you issue conforms with your state law requirements.

Kansas Statute on Power of Attorney

There are many tasks that you must do personally because of their legal or medical significance. For example, no one else can register your vehicle for you or sign your name to legal documents without formal permission from you. This formal permission is documented by a power of attorney, authorized by Article 6 of Chapter 58 of the Kansas statutes.

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