Power of Attorney Changes

The South Carolina General Assembly made significant revisions to the statutes governing powers of attorney. In January, I attended a conference with a segment on these changes. I must say I was so bored (lawyers go on and on about a topic) I kept getting up for coffee.  At the same conference, I spoke to a much more academic colleague who gave me a short version as she had already read through the entire thing. Everything she said, I thought, “Oh, I’ve already got that in mine.” So, I made a mental note to read through it before I had any clients sign one and went on with my day. It wasn’t long before I had to read it, and yes, I already had many provisions in my standard document. Then, I read some more.

One of the “neat” provisions (for any geek out lawyers) is a family management provision to grant the appointed person authority to keep up the standard of living of people you normally take care of as long as you have the assets. This is neat because the appointed person has a duty to act in your best interest. With a family management provision, you are telling that person it is okay to keep up your family and that it is in your best interest to spend your assets on those family members. There are other default provisions if your document is otherwise slim on details.

The long and short of it is if you own a business or feel like you need someone else to step in and manage things from time to time or are simply worried about the “what if something happens to me” day you should consult with a lawyer about a power of attorney. A power of attorney grants another person authority to act like you at your bank or insurance company or any other entity that has your stuff. The person you appoint can do as much or as little as you set forth in your power of attorney. The big hitch is the appointed person must act in your best interest and must be someone you trust.

There are many forms of powers of attorney.  You need to consult with an experienced attorney to look at which one fits your life.

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