Beginning January 1, 2014 Texas has a new statutory power of attorney. Customized power of attorney forms are still as valid as they were before to handle special situations like real estate transactions or medicaid asset protection; however, if you only need the basic “standard” power of attorney document then you can choose to use the new statutory form.

The new Texas Power of Attorney example differs from the previous power of attorney in three primary ways:

  1. The 2014 power of attorney requires you to initial each power you want to grant to your agent. The previous version required you to cross out any specific powers you did not want to grant your agent. This may seem like a small change but it opens the door to some potentially big problems which I will discuss in my next article.
  2. The 2014 power of attorney includes a standard Notice to make sure you are aware how long the power of attorney is in effect for unless you make provisions to the contrary. The default duration of the generic power of attorney is: 1) until you die or revoke the power of attorney; or 2) until your agent resigns or is unable to act for you; or 3) until a guardian is appointed for your estate.
  3. The 2014 power of attorney includes a new section called “Important Information for Agent.” While most of the language in this section is consistent with the Durable Power of Attorney Act and previous cases interpreting fiduciary obligations, what power does the language in this new section hold where it is inconsistent with the laws it seeks to describe and simplify? Unfortunately none of us are going to know the answer to that until disputes begin to occur and judges are called upon to interpret this new statute.

Even with the shiny new generic form the “standard” power of attorney is still insufficient to allow many of the most important asset protection strategies used when the person needs to qualify for nursing home Medicaid benefits without losing their life savings. Your life savings and your estate plan are too important to reply on generic documents that may or may not accomplish your goals. Contact Attorney Richard Shea of The Shea Law Firm at (832) 592-7913 if you want the security that comes with a custom estate plan designed to achieve your unique goals.

Next time we are going to look at some of the shortcomings and solutions you should know when considering using the new statutory power of attorney.

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