8 Facts about Powers of Attorney in California and Why You Need One

When sitting down with their California estate planning attorney for the first time, many people mistakenly assume that all they need is a Will. In reality, a good estate plan consists of several documents that work together to accomplish your goals. One such document is referred to as a durable power of attorney. A knowledgeable Orange County estate lawyer can evaluate whether a durable power of attorney is right for your estate plan.

What is a durable power of attorney? The following is an overview:

  1. A durable power of attorney allows you to grant someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf.
  2. The person granting the authority is known as the principal.
  3. The individual receiving the power granted is known as the attorney-in-fact or the agent.
  4. A durable attorney allows your agent to manager your financial affairs.
  5. Most banks, insurance companies, and other institutions will accept a valid power of attorney.
  6. Under the California probate code, if an institution refuses to accept a valid power of attorney, your agent can get a court order to force them to do so. The institution may then be liable for the attorney’s fees that were incurred as a result.
  7. A power of attorney is only effective while you, the principal, are alive.
  8. The authority granted under a general durable power of attorney is sometimes effective immediately. For this reason, a principal must choose their agent very carefully. The authority to access financial assets is a substantial power to grant someone.

A validly executed power of attorney is an important aspect of an Orange County estate plan. Granting someone this authority allows them to manage your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to do so yourself. A power of attorney is useful even for married couples. Often, couples have bank accounts or other assets that are in one name only. Using the power of attorney, the other spouse can access those assets if needed.

Having all of your estate documents in order to create a cohesive plan will bring you peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order. Our free guide, The Ten Things You Must Know before Creating (or Amending) Your Will or Trust, offers additional information about your estate plan. To learn more, contact the experienced Orange County estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates, APC. Call our office today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm