In Arizona, if you cannot make your financial decisions and transactions, a financial durable power of attorney is critical. We all hope we will always be able to manage our affairs on our own. However, there are many situations that could arise preventing you from taking care of your own business. The only way to truly be ready for the unexpected is to prepare ahead of time. You can do this by establishing legal documents designating agents to make important financial decisions and to execute transactions. In Arizona, a durable power of attorney does not terminate when the principle or person making the power of attorney becomes incapacitated; that is why it is call a “durable” power of attorney.

Who Can be a Power of Attorney and When Would it be Needed?

Anyone can choose to have someone else handle his or her financial affairs. The person creating the DPOA is called the principle. Powers of attorney can take immediate effect or can be triggered by a specific event that happens to the principle, such as illness or being injured. When those qualifying events occur, the durable power of attorney immediately springs into effect allowing the agent to begin handling affairs. The person designated as an agent must be age 18 or older.

What Can a Power of Attorney Agent Do?

The duties of a power of attorney agent can be sweeping or specific. People can choose to give the agent as much or as little authority as they wish. There are specific Arizona guidelines that must be followed to assure the DPOA’s validity. When a DPOA is not correctly prepared or executed, problems can arise that could render it invalid. The worst part of these mistakes is that you will not know about the problems until it is too late. When a DPOA is not honored, potentially expensive and lengthy court proceedings known as conservatorships can be your family’s only option.

Arizona Durable Power of Attorney Guidelines:

  • When you are preparing your DPOA and especially when you sign it, you must be able to understand what the DPOA is, what the effect of signing the official document means, and what you want your agent to do.
  • You must not be coerced into signing the DPOA. You must be a willing participant when you sign it.
  • When the DPOA is signed, the notary and witness (other than the agent) must NOT be the agent’s spouse or the agent’s children.
  • If you remain competent, you can change or revoke the DPOA at any time. When you become incapacitated, you no longer may change it.

Additional rules included in Arizona’s Financial Power of Attorney law ARS § 14-5506 spell out specifics such as how to revoke it.

Revoking Your Durable Power of Attorney

You can end your power of attorney at any time. To fully revoke your POA in Arizona, you must draft, in writing, a revocation and deliver it to your agent. If you have retained a copy of your original POA document, you should destroy it immediately. If you created your DPOA in a law office, you should let the attorney know you revoked the DPOA.

A DPOA in Arizona has no power after death in Arizona. A DPOA dies when the author dies. When the principle dies, the power of attorney is terminated; it does not serve as a substitute for a will. In other situations, such as when your spouse is your DPOA and you get divorced, your ex-spouse’s authority is usually terminated.

When Can a Durable Power of Attorney Go Wrong?

You should review your DPOA at least every year to make sure that the people you name as agents are still the right folks for the job. Make sure your DPOA complies with any new law changes. Although the law does not always change, practical concerns can always arise. For example, although the law doesn’t discuss whether your funds should be used to care for your pets when you are incapacitated, you may want to include that authority in the DPOA. Too often, people get their DPOA drafted, and they shelve it and forget about it. An experienced attorney can help you prepare your DPOA correctly, and can help you execute it and keep it updated regularly. Call me today to learn more about durable powers of attorney.