In July of 2014, Pennsylvania’s legislature changed the Power of Attorney Law in substantial ways. This blog is only going to address one of those changes. In succeeding entries, I will address some of the other changes.

Before I begin, please understand that your power of attorney document can be drafted to your specification. In fact, it should be drafted and personalized to your desires. The changes that I am going to address are the ‘default’ changes which the statute has made. With few exceptions, your document can be made to do precisely what you wish for it to do.

Also, remember that a Power of Attorney document is executed by a person, the principal, to grant to another person, the agent, certain powers to act on his or her behalf . The agent’s authority and duties must be spelled out in the Power of Attorney.

One thing that has changed is gifting. It has changed dramatically. Gifts may now be given “for the benefit of a person. . .” instead of being limited, as they always have been, to one’s family or extended family. While this may not seem like a huge change right now, if your agent begins giving gifts of your money and other assets to friends (i.e., his friends, not yours), he may be acting within his scope of authority.

You may limit your agent’s authority to give gifts in your own power of attorney document. If, however, your attorney simply places a form in front of you without explaining the specific and general powers of agents; you may be giving your agent authority which you did not intend to give to him. And later, if you are incapacitated and your agent is acting under that power of attorney, it may be too late to address it.

Please contact Mateya Law Firm to help you with your power of attorney document or any other estate planning, elder law issues, or estate administration needs.