What Is an Attorney?

An attorney is a legal expert with law degrees. They are the people you contact if you get arrested or have to hash out a binding contract.

While it is technically incorrect to call someone a lawyer without having passed the bar exam (to become an attorney), most people use these terms interchangeably in casual, nontechnical contexts. However, there are several significant differences between attorneys and lawyers worth noting.

An attorney-in-fact is a person granted power of attorney by the principal (the person giving the power of attorney). The person chosen may be a spouse, parent, adult child, other family member or close friend. They must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. They are responsible for many important financial and medical decisions for the principal. They are considered a fiduciary and must always act in the principal’s best interests.

The principal can choose which responsibilities to give the attorney-in-fact and usually lists these responsibilities in the power of attorney document. The power of attorney lapses if the principal dies, becomes incapacitated or consciously revokes it through a written statement.

It is wise to choose an individual who is trustworthy and has the time to do the job well. The attorney-in-fact must keep accurate and separate records of transactions made. The most basic of these records are a balanced checkbook, receipts and income and expense records.
Power of Attorney

The power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual to delegate decision-making authority for himself or herself. The person making the decisions is called the “principal.” The power of attorney can be limited or unlimited in scope. It may be effective immediately or at a future date. It can also be a durable or non-durable power of attorney.

One of the biggest risks in a POA is that an agent could abuse their power and take advantage of the principal. This is why it is important to only grant a POA to someone you trust. It is also important to make sure your agent is aware of your wishes and preferences so they can act as you would want them to.

Individuals should get individual legal advice about preparing and signing a power of attorney. A lawyer that specializes in estate planning or has experience working with elderly clients is usually best qualified to help.

A will allows you to specify who should receive your property and assets, including financial possessions, physical belongings and family heirlooms. You also can designate a guardian for any minor children and give instructions on how to handle your estate. A will is a legal document that must be signed and witnessed according to state law in order to be valid.

A lawyer can prepare a will, but you may be able to draft one yourself using various software programs or DIY websites. The important thing is that the will must be a written document with your name and the signature of two people who know you well as witnesses in order to be valid. You can also add to your will a letter of instruction, which is less formal and may include more specific information such as account numbers, passwords or other details. Alternatively, you can set up a trust, which may avoid the need for a will and allow you to minimize gift and estate taxes.

If you have a loved one with special needs, trusts can help to ensure they continue to get the care they need after your death. They can also help with accessing government benefits, minimizing taxes and providing privacy.

You can establish a trust during your lifetime, but it’s best to engage an estate planning attorney. You may be able to find one through your employer’s legal services benefit program, or you can check with the attorneys that are included in your company’s preferred provider network. A trust allows you to create conditions that determine how a beneficiary will receive assets. For example, you can state that your loved ones will get certain amounts when they reach specific ages or complete certain events (like graduating from college). You can also use it to ensure the beneficiary’s interests are protected from creditors. All of this takes time to set up, but it can provide peace of mind and savings in the long run.Anwalt

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