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Texas creates new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney form

During the last legislative session, Texas lawmakers created a new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, which is a very important form in estate planning and elder law.

Durable powers of attorney are a way for a person to appoint an agent to manage his or her financial and personal matters should the person become incapacitated due to age, illness, injury or another reason.

The new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney form is different from the old power of attorney in several ways, as recently explained in a helpful article from the Houston Chronicle.

First, under the old form, the Principal (the person signing the power of attorney) had to strike out the specific statutory provided powers that he or she did not want to grant to the Agent. With the new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney form, the Principal is required to affirmatively initial next to each of the powers that are being granted to the Agent.

Second, the new form includes a warning to the Principal advising him or her to choose a trustworthy Agent. The notice also declares that the form is durable, which means that it will continue until the Principal dies unless it is revoked by the Principal, the Agent resigns or a guardianship over the Principal is established by a court of law.

Finally, the new form contains a section at the end titled: "Important Information for Agent." This is a warning for the Agent which states that the power of attorney creates a fiduciary relationship, which means that the Agent is personally responsible and liable for acting on behalf of the Principal.

The changes to the form were made to reiterate the legal gravity of a power of attorney. Because this is such an important legal execution for both the Principal and the Agent, it is wise to consult an experienced estate planning lawyer who can help explain the legal ramifications of the form.

Unfortunately, when a power of attorney form is filled out incorrectly it can grant the wrong powers or no powers to the Agent. That's why filling out the form correctly is extremely important.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Elder Law: Texas has a new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney," Wesley E. Wright & Molly Dear Abshire, Jan. 13, 2014

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