From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I have signed a General Power of Attorney giving my girlfriend 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 at home? We both live in Bucks County, so she is close by.
The problem with putting your General Power of Attorney in your safe is that if you become incapacitated, your girlfriend will likely be unable to get into the safe. You could give her the combination to the safe, but that runs contrary to your wish. If she has the combination, she can get to the General Power of Attorney at any time. This is a common problem.
Our answer is to allow 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 Agent if you have become incapacitated.
If your girlfriend comes to our office to obtain your Power of Attorney, we would then ask your location and how to contact you. Normally, the 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 Power of Attorney to embezzle or steal from our client.
If you would like to store your Power of Attorney with us, please feel free to contact me.
If you need assistance with developing your estate plan in Bucks County, please call one of our Estate Planning Attorneys for a free consultation.