The Balance of Power

The Balance of Power

If you have done your estate planning, you have almost certainly signed a general power attorney. In that document, you (the “principal”) gave another person (your “agent“) authority to act on your behalf in all matters not related to health care. A very beneficial power indeed, but subject to certain shortcomings. Michigan has endeavored to address those shortcomings by joining 30 other states in adopting the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA), which becomes effective July 1, 2024.

Here are some highlights:

  • Those who refuse to honor a power of attorney that meets the signing requirements of UPOAA will be subject to sanctions.
  • Properly executed powers of attorney will automatically remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated. (Currently, a power of attorney must state that it is “durable” in order to remain effective through incapacity.)
  • An agent who embezzles, wrongfully converts, or refuses to return the principal’s property can be required to not only replace the value of the property, but to pay three times its value.
  • An agent found innocent of wrongdoing can be reimbursed costs and attorney fees incurred in defending his or her actions.

Powers of attorney signed before July 1, 2024, will remain effective. However, if your current power of attorney was not notarized, it should be replaced. If you need to replace your current power of attorney or simply wish to benefit from the expanded provisions of UPOAA, please call us at (248) 477-6300.

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