If you think someone is likely to go to court and challenge your
durable power of attorney or claim that you were coerced into
signing it, you can take several steps to head off problems.
See a Lawyer. You may want the lawyer to review the estate
planning documents you've created yourself, or to draw up some
documents for you. An experienced estate planning lawyer can answer
questions about your durable power of attorney and about your other
estate planning documents as well. For example, you may also be
expecting challenges to your will, a trust or health care wishes.
You can talk with a lawyer about all of these issues. The point is
to have the lawyer put your fears to rest by answering your
questions and confirming that your estate plan will hold up under
the challenges of your stubborn relatives. Your attorney can also
testify about your mental competency, should the need arise.
Sign Your Document in Front of Witnesses. You can sign
your document in front of witnesses, even if your state does not
require it. After watching you sign, the witnesses themselves sign a
statement that you appeared to know what you were signing and that
you did so voluntarily. If someone later challenges your competency,
these statements will be strong evidence that you were of sound mind
at the time you signed your document.
Get a Doctor's Statement. You may also want to get a
doctor's statement around the time you sign your durable power of
attorney. The doctor should write, date and sign a short statement
saying that he or she has seen you recently and believes you to be
of sound mind. You can attach this statement to your power of
attorney document. Then, if necessary, your attorney-in-fact can
produce the statement as proof that you were of sound mind when you
signed your power of attorney.
Make a Videotape. You can also videotape a statement of
your intent to make and sign the durable power of attorney. Such a
step should not be necessary, but going to this length may further
minimize the chances of a successful challenge to your competency.
Be warned, however, that using a videotape may work against you. The
person challenging your power of attorney document will want to use
any visible quirks of behavior or language as evidence that you were
not in fact competent when you made your document. If you do make a
videotape, keep this tape with your power of attorney
WillMaker 8 lets you create a legally valid Power
of Attorney for Finances. You can also write a will,
living will, final arrangements document and more.
"WillMaker is such an easy-to-use program that users may
never need to look at the manual..." --
Power of Attorney Workbook
Includes all the forms and plain-English
instructions you need to give a trusted person the
authority to handle your financial affairs for you.
Nolo's most comprehensive estate planning tool
discusses powers of attorney in detail, and explains how
they can be used in a thorough estate plan.