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What Do I Need to Know about a Power of Attorney in WA State?

What Do I Need to Know about a Power of Attorney in WA State?

A power of attorney gives a loved one the legal authority to handle your healthcare, financial, or other important decisions for you if you’re unable to. This can help you both during major life events when you need extra help or if you’re physically or mentally unable to make decisions on your own.

What Exactly is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants the named person the power to take the actions you list in the document. Doctors, financial institutions, schools, and others honor instructions from the power of attorney as if they were coming from you. Without this document, they would usually be legally bound to ignore the power of attorney’s instructions even if they believe that’s what you would want.

A power of attorney is not actually an attorney and doesn’t have to be a lawyer. It can be anyone you trust. The name just means they have similar powers to what you might grant to an attorney.

What Does a Power of Attorney Cover?

A power of attorney can cover virtually all decisions, or it can cover one specific action. What you include is up to you. Power of attorney powers might include the following.

  • Healthcare decisions
  • Care of your children
  • Paying your bills
  • Managing your finances, including selling assets or investments to cover expenses
  • Operating your business
  • Making decisions in litigation on your behalf (similar to how you would instruct an attorney rather than the actual legal work)

What Form Does a Power of Attorney Need?

You can find many templates and examples, but there is no specific form to use. The power of attorney just needs to be clear that it’s a power of attorney, name who you’re choosing as your agent, and list the powers you’re granting that person. It’s preferable to have it notarized so that there’s no question about its validity. You can sign in front of two witnesses rather than a notary if you need to.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney that lasts even if you’re incapacitated due to illness or accident. Not all powers of attorney are durable. For example, someone working abroad may designate someone to manage their affairs back home without making the power of attorney durable.

A power of attorney that isn’t durable terminates on your incapacitation. To be durable, the form must include your intent that it be durable.

What Do You Do With a Power of Attorney?

Your agent will need to present the power of attorney form to prove that they’re authorized to act on your behalf. You should keep at least one copy for yourself with additional copies located wherever you have copies of your other important documents. This allows your family to be aware of the power of attorney if something happens to you.

Can You Cancel a Power of Attorney?

You can cancel a power of attorney at any time for any reason. You just need to notify your agent. You may also wish to notify anyone that your agent was working with if you wish to make sure they no longer honor your agent’s instructions.

How Long Does a Power of Attorney Last?

A power of attorney might be indefinite, last for a specific amount of time, last until something happens, or only cover a specific action or event. You decide this when you create your power of attorney. No matter which option you choose, you still retain the right to cancel it early.

In the case of a durable power of attorney, it will be in effect from the time a physician or court declares you are incapacitated and last until death. You can cancel it if you recover and are competent to do so.

What Happens to a Power of Attorney When the Principal Dies?

If you die, your agent’s powers cease when they learn of your death. A power of attorney cannot be used to handle your estate even if you try to include that in your power of attorney. You would need to rely on a will or other planning documents.

What Must a Power of Attorney Do?

A power of attorney must act in your best interests. They cannot use your funds for their own benefit. When authorized to make medical decisions, they must follow your wishes as they understand them even if they would choose a different course of action.

What Can’t a Power of Attorney Do?

There are several things that you can’t include in a power of attorney under Washington law. These include several very important medical and legal decisions.

  • Medical: Amputation, shock therapy, life support decisions, or institutionalization. You’d need an advanced healthcare directive instead.
  • Financial: Changing life insurance beneficiaries, modifying a community property agreement, or making monetary gifts unless these actions are specifically included in the power of attorney. Modifying a will or voting in elections can never be included.

What if there is a Disagreement Over a Power of Attorney?

Your agent must follow your instructions, and you can remove your agent at any time. In case of a durable power of attorney where you’re incapacitated, your family can petition a court to invalidate the power of attorney or to force the agent to act in accordance with the instructions in the document.

Is an Out-of-State Power of Attorney Valid?

Most states will honor a power of attorney from another state at least on a temporary basis. If you become a resident of a new state, you should make sure your power of attorney meets the requirements for that state.

What if a Power of Attorney Names Two Agents?

A power of attorney may name one or more agents. If you name multiple agents, they must act jointly and agree on all decisions. You can also allow them to act independently, meaning each can act without input by the other(s), if you specifically state this in your power of attorney.

What is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and a Living Will?

A living will or advanced healthcare directive spells out what major medical decisions you’d want made on your behalf. These documents are used by your doctors and others to understand your wishes.

A power of attorney’s main job is to designate a specific person you want making decisions for you rather than the specific decisions to be made. While you can limit those decisions in the power of attorney, keep in mind the medical decisions that a power of attorney can never make by law.

What is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and a Guardianship?

A guardianship has a higher level of responsibility and decision-making than a power of attorney. A guardianship must be approved by a judge, and the guardian must provide periodic updates to the court. A power of attorney only needs the proper forms.

What is the Washington Uniform Power of Attorney Act?

The Washington Uniform Power of Attorney Act was a 2017 law that added safeguards to prevent abuses of powers of attorney. Many of the restrictions and requirements described above were added as part of this act. While you may see references to the Washington Uniform Power of Attorney Act, this is just a formal way of describing the laws that routinely govern powers of attorney.

When Should You Update Your Power of Attorney?

There are several situations where you may need to update your power of attorney.

  • You or your agent have moved, and the distance makes the arrangement impracticable.
  • The agent is no longer willing or able to assume the duties, or you no longer want them to.
  • Your life circumstances have changed and you need to agent to assume different responsibilities.

Do You Need an Attorney to Draft a Power of Attorney?

There is no legal requirement to have an attorney draft your power of attorney. However, a power of attorney confers important legal responsibilities, and you may want to have an attorney confirm that your power of attorney will do everything you want it to with no unintended consequences. Your attorney can also help you avoid technical mistakes that might result in a challenge to your power of attorney. To get help, talk to Lilac City Law today.

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    Randi L. Johnson, Lilac City Law, Estate Planning, Social Security Disability, VA Disability

      Randi and her team are professional, helpful and know their stuff! I felt comfortable and cared for working with them!
      Kristen Saccomanno
      Kristen Saccomanno
      22:59 06 Oct 20
      The knowledge, compassion, and attention to detail are only a few of the reasons I love Lilac City Law. We had previously done a will that was basically fill in the blanks. Our experience at Lilac City Law was so different than our fill in the blank experience. Death isn't always easy to talk about, but it was made easier because of Randi and her staff. We were walked through the whole process, and if we had any questions, they were right there to answer them. With care and compassion. Thanks so much LCL!
      Cindy Cole Vanhoff
      Cindy Cole Vanhoff
      22:15 06 Oct 20
      I highly recommend everyone at Lilac City Law. They helped me through every step of the SSDI process. Thank you so much!!
      Scott Poe
      Scott Poe
      00:24 02 Jul 20
      I don’t know really where to start in order to cover the magnitude of professionalism, understanding, persistence and compassion Lilac City law showed me. From Randi to each one of her staff-they worked very hard on my case and pushed me to keep fighting in the midst of several set backs from disability. They were always atop of communicating with me and all others involved. I highly recommend them and not just because I received a favorable decision but because of the plan they executed; so even if the results were unfavorable-I would still not hesitate knowing I chose the right practice. Thank you for you compassion and patience😊
      Joyce Kelly
      Joyce Kelly
      22:01 02 Jun 20
      Randi serves humanity with compassion and grace in dealing with all matters of life and death. I would highly recommend her for all the services she offers.
      Sarah Boban
      Sarah Boban
      20:14 16 Apr 20
      I wholeheartedly recommend these people. I had a crazy case and at times I was a mess. My team, Randy, Pam, David, and, Marissa always treated me with kindness and compassion. Thank you guys so much for the huge difference you've made in my life.
      Jenni Boo
      Jenni Boo
      23:24 12 Mar 20
      I had my hearing yesterday for Social Security Disability. I was very nervous , but we won my case. Randy and the whole team at Lilac Law was very supportive and understanding! They truly want to help people win the benefits they deserve and I highly recommend them!
      Tiffani Pelella
      Tiffani Pelella
      17:38 03 Mar 20
      Initial meeting with David Morris went well. He treated me with respect and understanding. I felt that I was listened to. Even accommodated me when I arrived 1 hour early. Highly recommended.
      Tom Richardson
      Tom Richardson
      18:09 06 Feb 20
      The staff is so great, it was really great to work with them all, and they were able to help me tremendously! Thank you for a great experience!
      Becki Lynn
      Becki Lynn
      23:43 28 Jan 20
      Don't remember exactly when I first met with them, but they were absolutely amazing to work with and only took a few months for my disability claim to be approved.I highly recommend Lilac City Law.
      Matt Napora
      Matt Napora
      17:46 06 Jan 20
      Everyone needs to take care of their estate and make sure their family is well taken care of. Randi and her team will take very good care of you and protect you and your family’s future. You cannot go wrong using their services. Client service is their top priority!
      Kim Benjamin
      Kim Benjamin
      21:52 02 Nov 19
      Randi is a terrific lawyer and a terrific person. I wish we lived closer so that we could work with clients together more often.
      Meghan Freed
      Meghan Freed
      17:31 02 Nov 19
      They really CARE about their clients and work with passion! Highly recommend!!!
      Jamile Moraes Pellicer
      Jamile Moraes Pellicer
      00:36 30 Oct 19
      Randi and her team are knowledgeable, compassionate, and very helpful with their clients. I highly recommend Lilac City Law!
      Connie Kaplan
      Connie Kaplan
      18:36 29 Oct 19
      Excellent firm. They really care about their clients. You cannot go wrong with Randi and her team.
      John Nachlinger
      John Nachlinger
      12:27 18 Oct 19
      What a great place! Thanks again!
      S Binks
      S Binks
      22:39 01 Oct 19
      Randi and her Team helped me through my disability claim and they were there through every question I had. Great Customer Service! Timely returned calls and emails, very knowledgeable and helpful the entire time and even afterwards! Will definitely be working with Randi and her Team in the future!
      Ronda Wheatley Ives
      Ronda Wheatley Ives
      17:02 21 Aug 19
      Wow, these guys were so nice and easy to work with. It ended up that they couldn’t help us with what we needed, but the gentleman we worked with went above and beyond my expectations, and more. I could tell that they really care about people there, not just cases. He was super patient in explaining things to me when I didn’t understand, it wasn’t a stressful experience as I thought it would be. Thanks for everything guys!
      Melanie S
      Melanie S
      06:09 21 Aug 19
      Lilac City Law is an incredible firm! I had the pleasure of working with the amazing team at Lilac City Law for nearly 2 years. Their team is absolutely remarkable! They are extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and overall compassionate when it comes to working with their clients. I sought their assistance nearly 2 years ago and have continued to work with them. I had a great deal of interaction with more than just one member of the Lilac City Law team and therefore can attest to the fact that this group of individuals is absolutely unparalleled. Attorney, Randi Johnson, is an exceptionally skilled lawyer as well as an overall remarkable woman! Her support staff is incredible as well, including Cassandra, Pam, Marissa, David, etc. with all of them by your side you have been blessed and are going to receive the best results possible. I would absolutely recommend seeking assistance from this law firm, as they have the ability to change lives; they definitely did mine. Thank you all so, so much!
      Torrey Tolmie
      Torrey Tolmie
      17:03 22 May 19
      Lilac City Law went above and beyond to help my partner get her SSI. My partner had been trying to win for 12 years and finally won. We can't say thank you enough. Thank You Randi and team for all you have done.
      Malick Darian White
      Malick Darian White
      21:33 29 Apr 19
      Randi and team are amazing! We previously had our will and other documents prepared by another firm in the Seattle area where we are from. I met with Randi to update areas of my trust and was soooooo impressed with how much more she provides than the firm who first helped me. I love the short term care directive that she provides and think it is amazingly thoughtful!! Thank you so much Randi Johnson!!
      Noah Gross
      Noah Gross
      17:36 01 Feb 19
      I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
      Tine Reese
      Tine Reese
      20:39 30 Jan 19
      I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
      Tine Reese
      Tine Reese
      20:37 30 Jan 19
      My husband and I worked with Randi and her team to complete our last will and testament, advanced directive, and health care proxy in the summer of 2018. Randi, and her team, as well as David Morris, were exceptionally kind, very professional, and thorough. We had several meetings to go through the important stuff - the financial info, heirlooms, and disposition of my husband's motorcycle. At each meeting, Randi and her team listened to our intentions and concerns. At the signing ceremony, we got a huge binder with our info and a data stick for safekeeping. Included in our will is a review which will take place every other year. We also got a document which states who can take our children to give our babysitter in case something bad happens to us when we were out. I'm very satisfied with Lilac City Law, and their work. I would recommend them without qualification to anyone.
      Anna Marie Martin
      Anna Marie Martin
      23:52 29 Jan 19
      Parents are so intentional about so many aspects of their children's lives. Few will forgo putting together a will. But, what if you don't die? What if you are just incapacitated? Are you prepared for the unexpected? Are you leaving your children at risk? If someone else does raise them, do you know that they will be raised according to your wishes? Have you even thought through what your wishes are? All these questions and more will be covered in the process of completing a Family Protection Plan with Randi Johnson at Lilac City Law. Having our Family Protection Plan in place gives me an incredible sense of comfort and peace of mind. I highly recommend Randi and the staff at Lilac City Law. Hopefully you never need her services, but isn't it better to be prepared than to leave things to chance?
      Marchauna Rodgers
      Marchauna Rodgers
      03:16 22 Jan 19
      My Husband and I were fortunate to work with Randi on his disability case-she mindfully guided us through that process -we were so pleased with the results that Lilac City Law was of course our choice to have when producing our family trust. Again a very professional, heartfelt experience that made what seems to be a difficult process very easy thanks to Randi and her staff. We always recommend Randi to our community of friends and family. Pat and Patty Murphy
      Patty Murphy
      Patty Murphy
      20:05 12 Jan 19
      I became ill over two years ago now,at the age of 29.. I experienced seizure like movements that lasted for hours or even days at a time. The doctors were at a loss for a diagnosis so they called it a mental disorder. As I was unable to care for myself most days or work, I applied for social security and was denied. I sought the help of Lilac City Law, and was immediately greeted with compassion and action. My case was a hard one to win or prove. Amy Santa helped me and explained everything to me step by step.. She ALWAYS answered my questions and showed immense sympathy for all I was going through. My case went to trial and Amy was amazing in court and won me the benefits I so desperately needed. This process was so difficult and overwhelming on my own.. I couldn’t have done it without these amazing people and thanks to them I can focus on improving my health,and not worry about my family struggling. I’m thankful and very blessed to have had them on my side! Sincerely, Ashley Schauble
      Ashley Baldwin
      Ashley Baldwin
      01:33 11 Jan 19
      Lilac City Law did an amazing job with my estate plan, which was something I had 'thought' about doing for a long time, but avoided... Fortunately, Randi and her team made the process very easy and approachable. I now feel relief knowing everything is in order for my two daughters in the (hopefully unlikely!) event something were to happen to me. Thank you Lilac City Law for helping me sleep better at night! :)
      Amber McKenzie
      Amber McKenzie
      03:30 09 Jan 19
      This has been an awesome experience from beginning to end. Randi and her team were super helpful in helping us wrestle through all the aspects of our estate plan. Randi’s knowledge of estate and wills were very obvious from the beginning and we are thankful for her and her staffs expertise. Thank you so much!
      Kevin Bunce
      Kevin Bunce
      17:22 12 Dec 18
      This firm is the go-to for family planning and protection your children. Randi and her team are excellent!
      Melinda Grimaldi
      Melinda Grimaldi
      01:49 20 Nov 18
      I needed to get my husband's advanced health directive for a procedure he was having and it was so easy to find in our perfectly tabbed out legal binder. I found it right away, made a copy and stored it right back in the binder. Thanks for making us get it, and for making it easy to find and understand.
      Jessica Gruver Koefod
      Jessica Gruver Koefod
      19:40 12 Oct 18
      I highly recommend this law firm. They have the experience and skills to help people with their plans and their future. From their work with others, they take a pragmatic approach to law and don't over complicate things unnecessarily. With that said, if a matter is complex they are very capable of handling it.
      Christine Matus
      Christine Matus
      09:29 05 Sep 18
      Randi demonstrates a beautiful balance of expertise and compassion while dealing with difficult circumstances. I'm very thankful we had her in our corner! I can't reccomend her strongly enough.
      Darin Pike
      Darin Pike
      16:47 25 Jul 18
      Randi and her staff are the best! They help you with your case and are there if you have any questions.I highly recommend them!
      Tammy Reedy
      Tammy Reedy
      21:56 18 Jul 18
      Randi did a wonderful job of asking simple questions to help us determine exactly what type of trust we needed to match our goals. Thank you so much, Randi, for taking time out of your busy schedule to get us were we need to be!
      Michelle Darnell
      Michelle Darnell
      02:52 17 Jun 18
      Such a great meeting today with Randi. Tell me who wants to talk about wills and final arrangements, right? Well, my husband and I did this today and Randi, you made it easier than we expected. What a blessing to work with such talent and know you have our backs. Between you and Cary Wong. We will be sitting pretty, no matter what life brings us. THANK YOU!
      Missy Schaaf
      Missy Schaaf
      01:20 31 Mar 18
      Vincent Adolph
      Vincent Adolph
      13:30 26 Feb 18
      Randi and her staff are great to work with - no surprises, and she made it all so easy. Now we have a will and health directives, so our children won't be burdened when the time comes. I highly recommend!
      Sharon Robertson
      Sharon Robertson
      18:04 05 Feb 18
      Randi and her team do amazing work. Thank you very much for what you do.
      Erin Whitney-Neher
      Erin Whitney-Neher
      20:18 23 Jan 18
      Randi are her staff are amazing! They are all very knowledgable, helpful and passionate about serving others. Every step of services are explained clearly and follow-up exceeded expectations. In addition, Randi is active in the community and regularly volunteers her time and talents putting on presentations focusing on educating others on specific topics. She has a passion for assisting those with special needs or situations. For legal assistance with heart, Lilac City Law is highly recommended!
      Nadine Burgess
      Nadine Burgess
      18:14 25 Apr 17
      Excellent staff. Very knowledgeable and go out of their way to get the job done! Would recommend to anyone looking for services they offer!
      Jason Spade
      Jason Spade
      02:17 19 Oct 16
      Randi was an excellent attorney. Her staff was excellent as well. I was treated with kindness, compassion and dedication towards winning my complex and difficult case, which ultimately happened. I am very happy that I chose Lilac City Law to represent me. I would highly recommend them!!!
      Richard D. Seibert
      Richard D. Seibert
      15:56 03 Oct 16
      Melanie Jason Carter
      Melanie Jason Carter
      06:46 01 Sep 16
      Mia Martinez-Bermudez
      Mia Martinez-Bermudez
      04:22 30 Jul 16

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