Granting Power of Attorney in Berrien County, MI

Incorporating a Michigan Power of Attorney into your estate plan isn’t just prudent; it’s a fundamental step in safeguarding your autonomy over financial and health-related decisions, should you ever be unable to make them yourself.

Whether your situation requires a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, or some combination, these legal tools ensure that someone you deeply trust will uphold your interests and manage your affairs as you wish. The attorneys at Legacy Counsel provide guidance and foresight as you plan for the unpredictable while making sure that your Powers of Attorney align with your needs and seamlessly integrates into your broader estate strategy.

Serving Southwest Michigan, Legacy Counsel offers tailored legal services for creating and managing Powers of Attorney. We ensure that your chosen agent is equipped and ready to act with confidence and authority, from the document’s initial draft to its ultimate implementation.

Call 269-932-4017 for a Consultation.

Why Have a Power of Attorney?

Authorizing a trusted person with a Power of Attorney (POA) helps ensure continuity, stability, and provides peace of mind in various scenarios.

  • Financial Stewardship: A binding POA empowers your agent to oversee and prudently manage your financial holdings, conduct banking operations, direct investments, and make informed economic choices reflecting your best interest.
  • Healthcare Proxy: Designate an agent to make critical healthcare decisions and uphold your medical preferences, particularly when you cannot.
  • Legal Representation: Grants your agent the authority to handle legal matters, including contract negotiations, tax filings, and other statutory duties.
  • Property Management: Allows your agent to handle real estate transactions, whether it’s the sale, purchase, or everyday management of property, under the powers you’ve outlined.
  • Duty of Care: Imposes a fiduciary obligation on your agent to prioritize your welfare with utmost integrity and diligence, safeguarding your assets and your well-being.
  • Ensure Transparency: Put safeguards in place to confirm that your agent remains dedicated to updating you on all decisions made when you can receive information and to keep detailed records.

Our POA Lawyers Can Help:

  • Draft & File Ironclad POA Documents
  • Clarify Legal Boundaries
  • Provide Decision-Making Strategies
  • Promote Asset Oversight & Protection
  • Assist with Recordkeeping
  • Support & Guide Your Agents
  • Navigate Probate
  • Ensure Compliance

Explore Our Packages

Why Work with Legacy Counsel?

Our services extend beyond being lawyers who help draft wills and create powers of attorney. We nurture client relationships and remain accessible. From the moment you sign your documents, we commit to being with you and your loved ones every step of the way.

Legacy Clients Benefit From:

  • A Customized POA & Estate Plan
  • Clear & Upfront Pricing
  • 3 Year Estate Plan Reviews at No Additional Cost
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • E-Signature Capability, Virtual Consults & Expedited Services

Contact Legal Counsel today to book a consultation. We will answer all your questions and address your concerns.

Schedule a Consultation

Michigan Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that appoints a trusted agent to manage your affairs. This “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” is empowered to handle various responsibilities, ranging from financial management to health care decisions, based on the principal’s (your) stipulations.

Under Michigan law, a POA can give an agent wide-ranging authority or limit the scope of their abilities. However, unless specific legal requirements are met to make the POA “durable, ” the agent can no longer act on your behalf if the principal becomes incapacitated. These non-durable POAs are generally used for short-term situations or to complete a single task.

Therefore, Michigan residents need to craft a POA that meets their current needs and anticipates future scenarios, especially regarding medical care and financial matters.

Durable Financial Powers of Attorney

Sometimes called a Financial Power of Attorney, Property Power of Attorney, or Durable Financial Power of Attorney (DPOA), this authorizes an agent to manage your financial affairs and remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. This includes handling transactions, paying bills, and managing investments.

An agent named in your DPOA can:

  • Sign checks for you.
  • Make bank deposits/withdraws.
  • Pay your bills/deal with creditors.
  • Contract for medical or other professional services.
  • Sell your home and other property.
  • Buy insurance for you.

Remember, a durable financial power of attorney can be designed to take effect immediately rather than upon the principal’s incapacitation. This immediate effectiveness can be crucial for spouses and those managing the affairs of elderly parents. But all POAs end upon the principal’s death, and the Trust or Will dictates any further actions.While contemplating such events can be uncomfortable, preparing for such things is a fundamental aspect of estate planning.

Medical Power of Attorney

With other names, including Health Care Power of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive, Medical Power of Attorney, or Durable Medical Power of Attorney (DMPOA), this document empowers your “Patient Advocate” to oversee health care decisions if you cannot do so. This authority persists even if you lose the capacity to make decisions yourself and covers a range of medical-related actions.

A Patient Advocate is empowered to:

  • Consent to or refuse medical treatments for you.
  • Access your medical records and discuss your care with health professionals.
  • Make decisions about life support and other critical care options.
  • Arrange for your admission to or transfer from health care facilities.
  • Make decisions about post-mortem exams and organ donation.

It’s important to note that a medical advance directive can also grant your advocate immediate authority to make decisions should the need arise. But this doesn’t allow the appointed individual to supersede the wishes of a competent principal. Like financial POAs, medical POAs become void upon death, with subsequent medical directives guided by the principal’s living will or other estate documents.

Medical POA vs. Living Wills

A Medical Power of Attorney differs from a Living Will in that it doesn’t specify your preferences for medical treatments but authorizes your patient advocate to make health care decisions for you. While Living Wills are not specifically authorized under Michigan law, they can provide helpful guidance to your medical providers. Therefore, having a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will is often advised to guide your care preferences. Additionally, a Medical Power of Attorney does not cover financial management during incapacitation. To ensure financial matters, such as paying bills and taxes, are handled if you cannot do so, pairing a health care directive with a Financial Durable Power of Attorney is often recommended.

What Happens Without a POA in Michigan?

No one is authorized to manage your financial and healthcare decisions without a Power of Attorney should you become incapacitated. This means that, regardless of marital status, no one has the legal right to act for you without a court order. Without a Financial Durable POA, someone would need to seek legal conservatorship to handle your financial affairs, while a healthcare decision-maker would require guardianship.

Both conservatorship and guardianship are time-consuming, expensive, and public. During these proceedings, a judge determines who will be responsible for your personal, healthcare, and financial matters. This living probate process might end with someone you wouldn’t choose being appointed to these roles.

Without Powers of Attorney, the court proceedings required to appoint someone to manage your healthcare and finances will also result in significant fees and costs, potentially diminishing your estate and delaying urgent medical and financial decisions.

To ensure your wishes are honored without unnecessary legal intervention, it’s crucial to have durable powers of attorney before any unexpected incapacity arises from an accident or health emergency. This proactive step empowers those you trust to take charge of your healthcare and financial matters immediately.

How to Select Your Agent or Advocate

In Michigan, a legally qualified agent for a Power of Attorney must be over 18, mentally competent, and not entangled in unresolved bankruptcy. When choosing an agent or advocate, consider their experience with financial or healthcare decisions, geographic proximity for hands-on decisions, and financial savvy, especially when managing complex assets. Regarding healthcare decisions, their alignment with your medical values and their emotional strength to make tough choices on your behalf should also be considered.

Choosing an agent is a personal decision. It should be someone you trust implicitly to act in your best interest. It’s best to consider their ability to handle responsibilities, willingness to serve, and understanding of your wishes.

Frequently Asked Questions about POAs

What Should I Do If I’m Named as an Agent or Advocate in a POA?

If you’re named as an agent or advocate in a Power of Attorney in Michigan, first ensure you understand the scope of your authority and responsibilities by thoroughly reviewing the document. You should communicate with the principal to grasp their specific wishes and consult an attorney if you have any questions about the terms of the POA. It’s also important to keep meticulous records of all actions and decisions you make as an agent and always act in the principal’s best interest, upholding the trust they’ve placed in you.

How Do I Know if a POA is “Durable”?

A durable POA in Michigan must include specific language stating that the agent’s authority continues despite the principal’s incapacity. This is often explicitly stated in the POA document. If you’re unsure, have an attorney review the document to ensure it complies with Michigan’s legal requirements for durability.

Can a Power of Attorney be Revoked?

If the principal is mentally competent, they can revoke a POA at any time. The revocation should be in writing and all parties who were given or used the original POA should be notified, including any financial institutions or healthcare providers.

What’s the Difference Between a “Springing” POA and an “Immediate” POA?

A “springing” POA comes into effect upon a specific event, typically the principal’s incapacitation. An “immediate” POA is effective when the document is executed and does not depend on future events.

What Makes a Michigan POA Legally Valid?

For a Power of Attorney to be legally valid in Michigan, it must comply with Chapter 700 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. A financial POA must be dated, written, and signed by the principal. Additionally, the signing must occur in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the document. The witnesses must not be the designated attorney-in-fact. The requirements for a medical POA are outlined under Section 700.5506 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. These steps ensure the POA is recognized by state law and can be enacted by the appointed agent.

If I Have a POA, Do I Still Need a Will?

Yes, a POA and a will serve different purposes. A POA is for managing your affairs while you are alive, and a will directs the distribution of your estate after your death. Having both documents is a crucial part of a comprehensive estate plan.

Build Your Legacy with Our POA Lawyers

Based in St. Joseph, Legacy Counsel PLC is a boutique estate planning firm serving Southwest Michigan, including Berrien County, Cass County, Van Buren County, and more.

View Our Full Areas Served

Call 269-932-4017.