Author: Sean Pooley

power of attorney

4 Critical Things to Know About Powers of Attorney

When a loved one needs assistance with basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, and self-care, they may need help with finances and medical decision-making as well. Unfortunately, when they need assistance, it may be too late to get the legal documents in place that are necessary. 

Why Powers of Attorney are Necessary

To legally serve as a decision-maker for a friend or loved one, certain HIPAA compliant, legal documents must be in place – powers of attorney.  Without these documents many institutions, such as hospitals, banks, and mortgage companies, are forbidden from communicating with and accepting the authority of anyone other than the client or patient. 

How Power of Attorney Documents Work

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which one person grants another person the authority to be his/her decision maker.  The person who grants this authority is called “the principal”. The decision maker is called “the agent”.

With some exceptions, once the principal appoints an agent to be his/her decision-maker, the agent is immediately empowered to act. As a safeguard, the law requires the agent to act in accordance with principal’s reasonable expectations (if known), or if not known, in the best interests of the principal. 

The Primary Types of Power of Attorney

Not all power of attorney documents are created equal.  All must be HIPAA compliant. Each grants a different type of authority.  Below are the four main powers of attorney:

Medical Power of Attorney

This document allows the agent to make health and medical care decisions for the principal.  For example, if the principal is in a car accident, in the hospital and unconscious, the agent can make decisions like consenting to a blood transfusion or surgery. 

A medical power of attorney is can also helpful for aging adults who may need assistance even in non-emergency situations.  For example, an agent can select doctors, make medical appointments, and take an active role in managing an elderly parent’s everyday health care.  With a medical power of attorney in place, an elderly person can use the help of a trusted family member to handle or assist with these matters. 

power of attorney legal documents

General Durable Power of Attorney

This document grants the agent authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the principal.  Financial decisions include opening a bank account, filing tax returns, paying bills, and entering into legally binding agreements.

Springing Durable Power of Attorney

This power of attorney is more limited than the General Durable Power of Attorney.  A Springing Power of Attorney only takes effect when the principal is unable to act on his/her own behalf. These types of powers are less common, and less useful, because they require a legal finding of incapacity before the agent may take action.

Limited Power of Attorney

Also called ‘Special Power of Attorney’, this power grants the agent very limited permission to make a financial decision on behalf of the principal.  For example, if the agent plans to be out of the country on the day her new home purchase is set to close, the principal can sign a Limited Power of Attorney granting the agent permission to sign the closing and mortgage documents on her behalf.

They Are Revocable

Power of Attorney documents can be revoked at any time by the principal either orally or in writing.  Once the principal dies, all power of attorney documents are automatically revoked, and the agent is no longer authorized to take any action.

Power of Attorney documents are helpful legal documents that often eliminate the need for court appointed decision-makers, like guardians and conservators, when a loved-one becomes incapacitated.  These court proceedings are called “living probate”.

Because these documents have legal implications and grant powers to the agent to make important decisions for the principal, it is always the best practice to consult an experienced estate planning attorney in deciding which type of power of attorney is appropriate and what factors to consider when selecting decision-makers. 

The legal team at Kokish, Goldmanis & Greenberg, P.C. can help you understand what is involved when granting a Power of Attorney, how to select your decision-makers, and draft the necessary legal documents.

We understand that discussing incapacity may be difficult but doing so with family members and trusted legal advisors can provide peace of mind and a clearer path forward for all involved.

To learn more, contact our offices at (303) 688-3535 to schedule a consultation.

Becky Goldmanis Named a Colorado Super Lawyer for 2018-2019

Kokish & Goldmanis is proud to announce that K&G partner Becky Goldmanis has been named a Colorado Super Lawyer for 2018-2019.

The Colorado Super Lawyers are well known and recognized as the best lawyers in Colorado.

Goldmanis, who heads K&G’s Family Law Department had this to say, “I am honored to be named a Colorado Super Lawyer! As a former district attorney it is gratifying to know that our work at K&G in helping families is recognized”.

K&G Lawyers Are Active in Our Community

K&G partner Bernie Greenberg is now the immediate past chair of the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce and the current chair of the board of directors of the Castle Rock Chamber Foundation.

The foundation provides education to the public and schools on the economy, business and finance to equip the public to be better citizens and understand how our economy works. By providing these educational programs the Castle Rock Chamber Foundation reduces the financial burden to local governments who lack resources to provide such education.

Greenberg, who heads K&G’s Estate Planning Department had this comment, “It is honor to serve the Castle  Rock Chamber Foundation as it’s chair and move our community forward with broader and deeper understanding of how the economy works.”

Becky Photo Castle Rock Law Firm

Rebecca Goldmanis Named Rising Star By Colorado Super Lawyers

K&G is pleased to announce that firm partner Rebecca Goldmanis has been named a Rising Star by Colorado Super Lawyers. Becky heads the firm’s Family Law Department and specializes in family law, complex and high conflict divorce and post decree matters.

As a former district attorney, Becky is experienced in high conflict matters and is recognized as one of Colorado’s top family law specialists. Becky also presented to the Colorado Family Law Institute in the summer of 2017 with K&G partner Bernie Greenberg on how trusts can impact divorce.

John Kokish Honored by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce

K & G founder John Kokish was honored by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s 2017 Annual Banquet. Mr. Kokish was named the Small Business Person of the Year and the firm was named Small Business of the Year by the chamber.

The chamber cited Mr. Kokish’s decades of service to Castle Rock and surrounding community when presenting this award. K & G also congratulates John and thanks him for his outstanding service to the community.

Bernie Greenberg Elected as Chairman of the Board by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce

K & G attorney Bernie Greenberg was elected to serve as the Chairman of Board for 2017-2018 by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. Bernie also serves as a board member and member of the executive committee for the Castle Rock Chamber.

Mr. Greenberg also completed a two year stint as the lawyer coach of the Douglas County High School Mock Trial Team and service to Leadership Douglas County.

K & G continues it’s long standing commitment to community service through it’s attorneys. K & G believes that we help families succeed by assisting move our community forward.

Let’s Talk – Probate Litigation Among Family Members Can Break More than the Bank

As our parents age, bonds with our siblings and extended family members become even more important.  Our parents need us to work collaboratively when they can no longer speak for themselves. Unfortunately, it is during stressful times like these that family members lose sight of what is important – their incapacitated parent.

Here is the story we often hear as lawyers:  Mom had no estate plan because she knew that her children would work things out should something happen to her.  Mom was the glue that kept the family together. Mom never thought there might come a time when she would be unable to make decisions about to her health or her money.

If it is too late for a loved one to appoint medical and financial agents due to incapacity, talk to your lawyer about how your family can work collaboratively to make the best decisions for Mom.  When there is disagreement and conflict about where Mom should live, or who should take care of Mom’s bills, adult children often want to run to the court house to battle it out.

Before you do, take the time to have meaningful discussions with your siblings and family members about where Mom would have wanted to live if given the choice; how Mom would have wanted to be treated, medically or otherwise, if she still had a voice; and talk to an estate planning attorney if you need help facilitating these often difficult discussions.
Your attorneys have tools and strategies, as well as access to a network of psychologists, family-facilitators, and other professionals, to help you to resolve these conflicts. 

Ask yourself, are the exorbitant costs of litigation and the destruction of your family worth the fight in court. While in some cases litigation is necessary, first, let’s talk.

Bernie Greenberg Named Attorney of the Year

K & G is pleased to announce that the K & G partner Bernie Greenberg has been named Attorney of the Year by Corporate Vision Magazine.

Bernie had this to say about this award, “I am humbled and honored that Corporate Vision selected me for this honor. To receive recognition for what we do as attorneys is extremely gratifying”.

Greenberg heads the firm’s Estate Planning Department and we congratulate Bernie on this latest recognition.