Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P.


Serving Story County and Central Iowa since 1906

323 6th St.
Ames, IA 50010-0664
USA
 

Phone: (515) 232-4732
 

ESTATE PLANNING :: Back to Practice Areas

I. Overview
II. Wills and Trusts: Wills
III. Wills and Trusts: Trusts
IV. Asset Protection
V. Estate Planning and Elder Law
VI. Powers of Attorney
Frequently Asked Questions

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Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document which allows the drafter or “principal” to name an agent or “attorney-in-fact” to act on their behalf under certain circumstances. The attorney-in-fact can act on the principal’s behalf, and make legally binding decisions. The power of attorney can be granted broadly or in limited situations, such as poor health or unconsciousness. Given the different types and variations of a power of attorney, it is advisable to consult a lawyer with experience in estate planning before drafting one.

Consider these types of powers of attorney:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney. This document allows the principal to appoint someone to make health care decisions on the principal's behalf should the principal become unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions for him- or herself. This is distinguished from what is commonly called a "living will" or "advanced directive," which contains instructions on whether to provide life support or other procedures should the principal become permanently ill or unconscious. Frequently, the health care or medical power of attorney is combined with the advanced directive.
  • Financial Power of Attorney. In a financial power of attorney, the principal authorizes the agent to have power for the principal to manage property interests and finances. These can include the authority to manage real and personal property, property, taxes, and other actions. However, a financial power of attorney cannot legally give the agent the power to vote, prepare a will, or seek a divorce on the principal’s behalf.

A power of attorney may be referred to as a "durable power of attorney." The word "durable" indicates that the powers granted to the principal endure even when the principal becomes physically or mentally incapacitated (or in legal jargon, "disabled"). The distinction comes from common law in which it was the rule that the power of attorney would cease upon the disability of the principal. Modern statutes allow the power to be durable, which in turn, makes the power of attorney a relatively easy way to plan for one's own care during a disability. A durable power of attorney may be written to be effective immediately or it may be written to take effect upon certain triggers, such as a medical declaration of mental incapacitation.

State law differs on powers of attorney. The name of these instruments, not to mention their powers, varies, although all states have some provision for these measures. If a person is unable to act on their own behalf and has not completed a power of attorney, a court may find it necessary to appoint a legal agent. Depending on state law, this agent can be called a guardian, conservator, or committee. If a court appoints a guardian, you may not be able to choose who this will be.

Other legal documents such as living wills allow persons to provide instructions about their health care and estate planning. The estate planning process should cover the disposition of assets during your lifetime as well as afterwards. If you are beginning the estate planning process or must have a power of attorney drafted, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney to protect your assets and fulfill your needs.

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Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., is an Iowa general practice law firm with practice including, but not limited to  Administrative Law, Adoption Law, Agricultural Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Banking Law, Business Law (including business organization, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), incorporations, and sales of businesses and business assets), Civil Rights, Commercial Law, Construction Law, Corporate Law, Criminal Defense, Elder Law, Employment Law, Family Law (including divorce, prenuptial agreements, child support, child custody, dissolution modification), Government, Government Contracts, Litigation, Personal Injury (including Motor Vehicle Accidents and Wrongful Death), Product Liability, Professional Negligence Law, Real Estate (including mortgage loan closings, IRC Section 1031 exchanges, subdivisions, platting, condominiums, and cooperative housing), Municipal Law, Taxation Law and Tax Preparation, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Probate Law (including financial and medical powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships, trust administration, and estate administration), Workers Compensation, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

The offices of the Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., are located in Ames, Iowa. The lawyers and staff of the Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., serve clients throughout Iowa, including the cities of Ames, Nevada, Gilbert, Huxley, Slater, Zearing, Story City, Roland, McCallsburg, Colo, Cambridge, Sheldahl, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Boone, Webster City, Eldora, Grundy Center, Newton, Adel, Eldora, Ankeny, Johnston, Indianola, Cedar Falls, Jefferson, Marshalltown, Clarion, Knoxville, and the communities that make up Story, Polk, Linn, Webster, Blackhawk, Marshall, Boone, Hamilton, Jasper, Dallas, Hardin, Warren, Greene, Wright, and Marion counties.