From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I have signed a General Power of Attorney giving my daughter the power to act for me, but I don’t want her to have it yet. I only want her to have it when (and if) I become unable to care for myself. Should I keep it in my safe deposit box? We both live in Montgomery County, so she is close by.
The problem with putting your General Power of Attorney in your safe deposit box is that if you become incapacitated, your daughter will likely be unable to get into the box. If you have died, there is a process to open the box. But, that process is much more complex if you are still alive and incapacitated.
You could put her name on the box, but that runs contrary to your wish. If her name is on the box, she can get to the General Power of Attorney at any time. This is a common problem. We solve this issue by allowing our clients to keep their durable powers of attorney in our will safes, free of charge. We would have you sign a document stating that you only want us to release your power of attorney to your daughter if you have become incapacitated.
If your daughter comes to our office to obtain your power of attorney, we would then ask your location and how to contact you. Normally, a client’s agent directs us to a hospital where we can confirm that the client has become incapacitated. We then release the power of attorney and the agent is then free to use it to care for the client.
But—every so often—we find out that our client is, in fact, not incapacitated. In those cases, the power of attorney was kept out of the hands of an agent who might have otherwise used the document to embezzle or steal from our client.
If you would like to store your power of attorney document with us, please feel free to contact me.
If you need assistance with developing your estate plan, please call one of our Montgomery County Estate Planning Attorneys for a free consultation.