Who Should You Choose As Your Power of Attorney?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Estate Planning on Monday August 31, 2020

Appointing a power of attorney can be an uncomfortable and terrifying prospect. Choosing the wrong person or people can throw the incapacitated parties, their families, and their estate into disarray. However, the alternate – leaving everything to chance after the incapacitated party’s death – could cause even more problems.

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding on whom to grant powers of attorney.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are two types of power of attorney:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney has control over the signer’s financial, legal, and business holdings from the moment that the signer finalizes the documents to the moment that the signer revokes the power.
  • Contingent Power of Attorney: A contingent power of attorney has control over the signer’s financial, legal, and business holdings from the moment that the signer is incapacitated to the moment that the signer is no longer incapacitated.

Note that both types of power of attorney are revoked if/when the signer dies.

Traits to Seek in a Power of Attorney

Selecting the right power of attorney is more complicated than picking the nearest friend or relative. The power of attorney will have to perform multiple duties under stressful circumstances. Powers of attorney should have the following qualities:

  • The power of attorney should get along cordially and respectfully with the signer’s family. Conflicts with the signer’s family can lead to litigation, which would reduce the value of the signer’s states and therefore reduce the chances of the signer’s wishes being met.
  • The power of attorney should be free of external influences that would override the signer’s wishes with their own. A strong-willed spouse, family member, or friend might successfully manipulate the power of attorney to gain the signer’s funds.
  • The power of attorney should advocate for the signer’s wishes without being unyielding. Compromises may be necessary to make peace with the signer’s family, but the signer’s wishes should be the top priority.
  • The power of attorney should not hesitate to put the signer’s best interest above their own. Designating someone as power of attorney grants tremendous influence over the signer’s estate. An unscrupulous power of attorney could take some or all of the signer’s estate. 
  • The power of attorney should not inherit from the signer’s estate upon death. This would create a conflict of interest where the power of attorney has little personal motivation to honor the signer’s wishes.

Let Us Help You Appoint the Right Power of Attorney

Our firm can help you manage your estate and ensure that your requirements are met. Call our offices, and we’ll schedule a consultation with you.

What Types of Information Can Be Used in a Family Law Courtroom?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday August, 31, 2020.

With the country’s constantly-changing laws – combined with a swarm of misinformation – determining what information can be presented in legal matters can be a daunting task. Generally speaking, all presented evidence must be both legally obtained and pertaining to the issue being litigated.

Information That Can Be Used in a Family Law Courtroom

Admissible evidence and testimony include the following categories:

  • “Writings”: Any legally-obtained document that is pertinent to the matter under litigation can be presented as evidence. Whether the document is text-based, imagery, or a combination of both is not relevant. The form of the writing – whether it be physical or electronic – is immaterial as long as the writing is complete.
  • Witnesses: Any person with direct information or relevant expertise can provide testimony for either the plaintiff or the defendant. Witnesses are generally divided into three categories:
    • Witness of Material Fact: A witness of material fact has observed or heard incidents that pertain to the legal proceedings.
    • Expert Witness: An expert witness is an accomplished individual whose area of expertise overlaps with the issue being litigated.
    • Character Witness: A character witness is someone who knows one of the litigants and is summoned to testify regarding the litigant’s moral code and behavior.
  • Social Media: Any social media that can be printed in its entirety is considered admissible. We’ve previously discussedthe implications of displays of indulgence or excessive displays of childrens’ development. It’s advisable to be wary of what to share online, as seemingly-innocuous posts can be detrimental in a court of law.

Information That Cannot Be Used in a Family Law Courtroom

Any evidence that can be proven as illegally-obtained or unrelated can be dismissed. These include:

  • Illegally-obtained recordings: Wiretaps obtained without warrants, illegal recordings, and any media that can be considered an unauthorized breach of privacy are not valid evidence in family law.
  • Irrelevant evidence: Any evidence that is not relevant to the matter under litigation can be excluded after a successful objection. Also, evidence that can be considered prejudicial can be blocked from the legal proceedings.
  • Unauthenticated writings: Documents that cannot be validated are subject to exclusion.
  • Testimony that a witness cannot corroborate: Remarks that are hearsay – unverified testimony about what a third party said – or demonstrate a lack of personal knowledge can be removed from the court record.

It’s important to know what evidence can be admitted and when to object to the opposing counsel’s evidence. Call the attorneys at Wickersham and Bowers today for a consultation!

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