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Powers of attorney may require periodic updates

Powers of attorney are among the most useful, flexible instruments in estate planning law. Legislative changes in Nevada and across the country, though, have given health care providers and financial institutions new reasons to reject them. There are steps that individuals can take, either on their own or through their attorneys, to ensure the continued effectiveness of powers of attorney.

The failure to include certain language in a power of attorney may render it ineffectual, even if the language was not required at the time the POA was executed. For example, in many states a medical POA must meet the requirements of the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act. It should include language to address the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Uniform Power of Attorney Act as well.

State laws vary widely when it comes to the form, language and enforceability of powers of attorney. For this reason it is almost always a good idea to engage an estate planning attorney familiar with relevant state and local laws. It's important to review powers of attorney and other estate planning documents with some regularity. Periodic review allows for updates to address changes in the legal and regulatory environment as well as changes in the life of the individual, such as the birth of a child.

Powers of attorney offer peace of mind by addressing decision-making problems before they arise. Individuals who are concerned about the enforceability of an existing POA and those who would like to establish POAs for the future may wish to schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney.

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