Powers of Attorney
General, Limited, & Durable Power or Attorney
A “Power of Attorney” is the written appointment of an agent to act on a person’s behalf. A person executing a Power of Attorney is known as the “principal.” The person appointed is known as the “attorney-in-fact” and has a fiduciary obligation to the principal. A power of attorney may be “general” or “limited.” A general power of attorney grants general powers to the attorney-in-fact to do nearly everything that the principal could do, with certain statutory exceptions. A limited power of attorney grants the power to do only certain acts, such as conveying specific real estate, or giving a spouse the authority to sign specific documents while the principal is out of the country. A power of attorney may be designated as a “durable power of attorney.” This means that the powers do not automatically terminate if the principal becomes incapacitated.
The following acts may be performed by the attorney-in-fact only if the power of attorney specifically authorizes the attorney-in-fact to perform them:
- Execute, amend or revoke any trust agreement.
- Fund with the principal’s assets any trust not created by the principal;
- Make or revoke a gift of the principal’s property in trust or otherwise;
- Disclaim a gift or devise of property to or for the benefit of the principal;
- Create or change survivorship interests in the principal’s property or in property in which the principal may have an interest;
- Designate or change the designation of beneficiaries to receive any property, benefit or contract right on the principal’s death;
- Give consent to an autopsy or postmortem examination;
- Make a gift of the principal’s body parts under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act; or
- Nominate a guardian or conservator for the principal.
Under Missouri law, NO power of attorney, whether durable or not durable, limited or general, may delegate to an attorney-in-fact the authority to do any of the following acts:
- Make, publish, declare, amend or revoke a will for the principal;
- Make, execute, modify or revoke a living will declaration for the principal;
- Require the principal, against his or her will, to take any action or to refrain from taking any action; or
- Carry out any actions specifically forbidden by the principal while not under any disability or incapacity.
Health Care Power of Attorney & Health Care Directive
You can also execute a “Specific Health Care Power of Attorney.” This allows the agent to make healthcare decisions for the principal in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. The agent’s authority to make these decisions is limited by a Health Care Directive. The Health Care Directive provides specific authorization for common medical decisions an agent may have to make. These authorizations include whether an agent wants life-longing procedures like being placed on a feeding tube, mechanical ventilator, or dialysis.
Prenuptial or Pre-marriage agreements are not only for the wealthy. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, a Prenuptial Agreement can help smooth the transition back to single life. These agreements can be especially reassuring for those who have been previously married and want to ensure they do not have to endure another difficult divorce proceeding. A prenuptial agreement can give both parties the peace of mind they need to enter readily into a lifelong partnership.