Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, SC

The trend in estate-planning law in the 21st century is to draft very broad powers of attorney. This trend is driven by our very large appetites for a wide variety of options and choices. Nonetheless, it should not be a secret that more estates are spent dry by relatives or friends holding power of attorney for a declining person than by executors of estates after someone has died.

A “durable” power of attorney is a powerful document, so you need to make sure its powers are no more than you need. For instance, some powers of attorney (POAs) grant authority to change insurance beneficiaries. There might be good reasons to do that, but I never include such power as a standard clause. Likewise, I am reluctant to draft a power of attorney authorizing the giving away of money, even to the client’s favorite charity; there are too many ways that could be abused, unless the instructions about it are clear.