Do You Need a Lawyer for an Arizona Power of Attorney?
In Arizona, a power of attorney must comply with provisions of state law to be valid. The statute includes requirements for the content and execution of a power of attorney, as well as provisions relating to the conduct of an agent designated in a power of attorney. While you technically don’t need a lawyer for an Arizona power of attorney, signing one without assistance from a knowledgeable attorney can create substantial legal problems for you and for your designated agent.
What Does a Power of Attorney Do?
A power of attorney, sometimes referred to as a POA, is a legal document in which the principal (person signing the document) gives a named agent (also called an attorney-in-fact) legal authority to act on the principal’s behalf. A POA may be for a specific purpose, or it may be general in nature. The document itself determines the extent of the legal authority given to the agent.
The terms of the document also determine whether the power of attorney continues in effect in the event of the principal’s disability or incapacity. A POA that stays in effect after disability or incapacity is called a durable power of attorney. Several types of durable POAs are part of a complete estate plan in Arizona. These powers of attorney protect you and your family during your lifetime, if you suffer disability or incapacity temporarily or permanently.
All powers of attorney must be prepared and executed in full compliance with Arizona statutes. Durable powers of attorney have special requirements that apply to make them survive disability or incapacity.
When you sign a power of attorney, you give another person the legal authority to act on your behalf with regard to the matters covered by the POA. Since you are allowing someone else to make important legal decisions and take consequential legal actions on your behalf, you should always consult with a lawyer before you sign a POA. Getting assistance from an attorney makes certain that the document you sign accomplishes your goals and doesn’t allow decisions and actions that you don’t intend. It also ensures the legal validity of the document under Arizona state statutes.
Powers of Attorney in an Arizona Estate Plan
A thorough Arizona estate plan includes durable powers of attorney that impact three critical areas of your life in the event of disability or incapacity: financial decisions, medical and health care, and mental health care. The POAs give a person (or persons) you designate authority to make decisions on your behalf that affect your personal and medical care, where you live, who takes care of you, and many other aspects of your life.
If you don’t have these legal documents in place, and you have an accident or health crisis that impairs your ability to make decisions, no one can make any decisions for you — not even your spouse. Your loved ones will have to go to court to ask a judge to appoint a person or persons who can make decisions for you while you have a disability or are incapacitated. Not only does going to court consume precious time when decisions have immediate consequences, but the court proceedings can involve considerable expense.
The durable powers of attorney in your estate plan should take into account your unique personal and financial circumstances, in addition to complying with Arizona laws. The persons you choose to make your decisions should be carefully chosen, since POAs can be subject to abuse by an agent who wants to take advantage of you. Getting help from an experienced estate planning lawyer is the only way to ensure that you protect your rights and create documents that are valid in Arizona.
You should never sign a form document or use an online service to create any legal documents, including powers of attorney and other estate planning documents. You also should never sign a document that someone else gives you and urges you to sign. Legal documents prepared and signed without assistance from an attorney create substantial risks for you and your family.
You can find out more about what documents are part of a complete Arizona estate plan, including durable powers of attorney, in our article What Documents Are in an Arizona Estate Plan?
Powers of Attorney From States Other Than Arizona
If you have a durable power of attorney from a state other than Arizona, chances are that the POA is also valid in Arizona, if it is valid in the other state. However, as a practical matter, if your agent tries to use an out-of-state POA in Arizona, they likely will discover that banks, other financial institutions, real estate agents, and other businesses or individuals will refuse to accept a non-Arizona power of attorney. Your agent may have to go to court to have the POA validated before it can be used.
If your estate planning documents were prepared in a different state, you should talk with an Arizona estate planning attorney to ensure that you have all the necessary documents in place for compliance with Arizona statutes.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced East Valley Estate Planning Attorney
At Peterson Law Offices, Arizona estate planning is a focus of our practice. We help clients with all aspects of putting essential legal documents in place, including durable powers of attorney. Your first consultation with us is always free of charge.
We provide top-quality services at affordable prices. If you don’t have durable powers of attorney or a complete estate plan, we help you put valid legal documents in place that fully address your needs and goals. If you already have an estate plan, we can help with updating your plan or reviewing it to make sure it is current.
We welcome inquiries from clients throughout the East Valley, including Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 480-878-5998 or using our online contact form.