Establishing a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is created when the principal – person giving power to someone else – signs a document that meets the appropriate legal requirements to allow someone else – called the agent or attorney in fact – to accomplish specific tasks on behalf of the principal. Powers of attorney can become effective immediately after they are signed or be contingent upon a future event, such as an illness. As with other legal documents, a principal must be mentally competent to sign the power of attorney, and it must be in writing.
Types of Powers of Attorney
Kansas allows both durable and nondurable powers of attorney. A nondurable power of attorney expires when the principal becomes disabled or there is uncertainty about whether the principal is dead or alive; a durable power of attorney does not. For example, if you give someone a nondurable power of attorney to access your bank account and then you become disabled, that agent will no longer be able to access your account. However, if you gave him a durable power of attorney, he could continue to access your account. Kansas also allows a durable power of attorney for health care, which allows a principal to name an agent to make health care decisions for him after he becomes incapacitated. An online legal services provider can help you draft the best type of power of attorney for your situation.
Naming an Agent
The agent can begin acting as soon as the power of attorney is signed unless the power of attorney specifies otherwise. An agent must have the legal capacity to act on behalf of the principal, but a principal can name more than one agent and can specify whether the agents must act together or can act separately. Under Kansas law, the agent must keep a record of receipts and transactions on behalf of the principal and cannot mix the principal’s property or money with his own.
Powers of an Agent
A power of attorney gives an agent certain powers, but it does not force the agent to act. To determine what powers you may have as an agent, look at the power of attorney itself. You cannot exercise powers not given to you in the document, and it may restrict some of the powers you are given. Some of the powers you may have include authority to make medical decisions, provide gifts, execute trust agreements, change beneficiaries, sell property or access financial accounts. Kansas law does not allow a power of attorney to give certain powers, such as making a will for the principal.
A power of attorney terminates as specified in the document, but it can be changed or revoked prior to termination. In Kansas, the principal can revoke the power of attorney by telling the agent, either orally or in writing, that he is terminating it. The principal may also inform others that the power of attorney is terminated so that they know the agent’s powers are terminated.