Fort Bragg Soldiers encouraged to set up powers of attorney, prevent issues during deployment
July 30, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Every deploying Soldier must address issues at home before heading downrange. Executing the appropriate powers of attorney before a deployment is a vitally important prerequisite for responsibly leaving Family and friends in order to serve the country.
A power of attorney is an authorization to act on someone else's behalf with respect to a business, legal, or health care matter.
A PoA can prevent disaster if one is in place when needed, but a PoA can also be abused. Well intentioned agents may make bad decisions with the best of intentions. In order to protect yourself, remember that you will be legally responsible for your appointed agent's acts, so be very careful to select the right person to be your agent.
General versus special PoAs
A general PoA is usually used to empower your agent to handle all of your affairs during a period of time when you are unable to do so. A general PoA typically gives an agent authority to handle the following matters:
Handling banking transactions
Entering safety deposit boxes
Buying and selling property
Purchasing life insurance
Entering into contracts
Exercising stock rights
Filing tax returns
Handling matters related to government benefits
Because the powers granted by a general PoA are so expansive, a general PoA is often inappropriate for at least two reasons. First, unless the principal trusts the agent with every aspect of his or her life and is confident this trust will continue in the future, the general PoA may simply put too much authority in the hands of another person. Second, just because you have a general PoA does not mean that a third party has to accept it. Businesses often decline to do business with agents empowered by general PoAs.
A special PoA is more limited and gives only specific powers to an agent. For example, a deploying Soldier can execute a special PoA to empower someone to sell their car while they are downrange. A special PoA can be used to authorize an agent to do one or more of the following:
Handle banking transactions
Enter safety deposit boxes
Sell real estate
Sell personal property
Manage business interests
Handle government issues
Make financial decisions
Make healthcare decisions for the principal
Under the common law, a PoA becomes ineffective if its grantor dies or becomes incapacitated by an injury or mental illness. This type of PoA alone is seldom appropriate for deploying servicemembers. A "durable" PoA remains in effect if its grantor becomes incapacitated.
In most jurisdictions, it is possible to create a "springing" PoA. A springing PoA is one that takes effect at a future time, such as when the grantor becomes incapacitated. A springing PoA may be used to allow a spouse or Family member to manage the principal's affairs in case illness or injury makes the grantor unable to act, without the power of an agent before the incapacity occurs.
Unless it has been made irrevocable, the grantor may revoke the PoA by telling the agent it is revoked. The grantor may also execute a "revocation of power of attorney."
If you have questions or need to execute a PoA, please contact the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Legal Assistance Office. The office is located in Building 2-1133 on the corner of Macomb and Armistead streets. You can schedule an appointment by calling 396-0396/6113. For more information, visit the LAO website at www.bragg.army/mil/SJA/LAO.