Married Couples and Power of Attorney

Married Couples and Power of Attorney

What happens to your legal obligations if you’re in an accident that leaves you in coma? Or if you’re stuck in another state or country? Who can sign documents for you, make legal decisions about your property, money, and even health? In many cases, your spouse has legal authority over these issues, but not always.

Although your spouse has some rights over property you own together, like joint bank accounts, they are restricted from doing certain things with that property. For example, generally both spouses must consent in writing in order to sell jointly-owned property. If you’re not able to sign such a document because you’re incapacitated or can’t be present, this sort of sale could be delayed or not allowed at all.

To fix this problem, you may need a power of attorney to give your spouse more legal authority.

A power of attorney is a legal document that lets someone you trust stand in for you when it comes to legal matters. This person is called an agent or an attorney in fact. Don’t let the name fool you – the agent doesn’t have to be an attorney. Many people make their spouse the agent.

When you create the power of attorney, you decide when it goes into effect, and what the agent can and can’t do. For example, you could set a condition that makes the power of attorney come into effect if you’re medically incapacitated, or if you’re out of the country. You could even make it permanent, but that’s not very common. Likewise, you decide what your agent can do in your behalf. Maybe they only have authority to sell specific property you own, or maybe they have full legal authority over your affairs.

The type of power of attorney that lets an agent make decisions about property, money, and similar issues is sometimes called a financial power of attorney. There is another type, as well: the health care power of attorney. This document provides an agent legal power over your healthcare decisions. This type of power of attorney is often included as part of a living will.

Create a power of attorney that’s tailored to the requirements of your state in minutes. You can also speak to an independent attorney as part of a 30-day trial with the Comprehensive package. Same-day turnaround is available for an additional fee.

  • Introduction to Power of Attorney
    A power of attorney is a document that lets you name someone to make decisions on your behalf. This appointment can take effect immediately if you become unable to make those decisions on your own. For example, if you become mentally incapacitated, or leave the country for a period of time, you...
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  • Definition of a Power of Attorney
    A power of attorney is a document you can use to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. The person you designate is called an "attorney-in-fact." The appointment can be effective immediately or can become effective only if you are unable to make decisions on...
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  • Durable Power of Attorney Permissions
    You can give your attorney-in-fact as many or as few powers as you want. A power of attorney can authorize your agent to do any or all of the following on your behalf:
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  • Legal Requirements for a Power of Attorney
    There are two essential elements of a valid power of attorney:
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  • Married Couples and Power of Attorney
    You should not assume your spouse will have total control of your finances if you become incapacitated. Although your spouse has some rights over property you own together, like joint bank accounts, he or she is restricted from doing certain things with that property. For example, generally both...
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  • Putting a Power of Attorney into Effect
    A durable power of attorney can be drafted so it becomes effective as soon as you sign it. Alternately, you can specify that it will not become effective unless a doctor certifies that you have become incapacitated. This is called a "springing" power of attorney. It...
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