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A Better Partnership


Sep 2012
September 24, 2012

Estate Planning Tip: Durable Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney for College Students?

People often think of powers of attorney as something for the elderly.  However, with college students freshly back at school, a reminder is in order that dependent college students should also sign durable powers of attorney for financial and medical matters to name their parents as their agents and patient advocates.  It is also a good idea for each student to sign a HIPAA release to authorize parents to have access to medical records.  It is important to remember that college students are legally adults.  Without these documents in place, medical providers and colleges will often not provide parents with access to the student’s medical records, financial records and grades.

New Law on Durable Powers of Attorney

Speaking of durable powers of attorney, a significant amendment to the Michigan Estate and Protected Individuals Code was recently signed into law that applies to all powers of attorney signed on or after October 1, 2012.  It has several new requirements.  Perhaps the most important of the new requirements are that certain extraordinary powers have to be specifically granted.  These include the power to make gifts and the power to place assets into joint tenancy between the principal and the agent.  In addition, the amendment states that an agent under durable power of attorney may receive compensation if so provided in the power of attorney document.  While the amendment does not specifically prohibit compensation if the power of attorney is silent as to that issue, it appears by implication that that is now the case.

Signing Requirements

After October, 1 2012, powers of attorney must be signed in the presence of (a) two witnesses, neither of whom is the agent, and both of whom also sign the power of attorney, or (b) acknowledged before a notary public.  Under prior law, there was no specific execution requirements, though notarization was necessary for a power of attorney to be in recordable form.  Because it is required for recording, notarization continues to be the best method for execution.  The new law also imposes a new requirement that an agent sign an Acceptance before exercising authority under the power of attorney

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