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Charleston Powers of Attorney

By giving another person power of attorney, you are enabling that individual to act legally on your behalf. In South Carolina, there are numerous types of power of attorney and to help you clarify which one will be most helpful to you, you should have the services of a first-rate power of attorney lawyer. Wiles Law Firm, LLC is the place to come. Conveniently located in Mt. Pleasant, we are committed to assisting you in navigating the sometimes complicated legal waters and to helping you feel comfortable with the decisions you make that will affect you and your loved ones in the future.

South Carolina’s various types of power of attorney give you options, permitting you to decide whether to give the chosen person full, long-term control, partial, temporary control or even power only in certain restricted situations. Obviously, the person you choose as your representative must be someone you trust completely who will be up to the task, reliable and knowledgeable both about the type of choices he or she will be asked to make (e.g. financial or real estate) and about what would choose to do if you weren’t incapacitated.

In general, power of attorney documents must be signed, witnessed and notarized by adults and are typically ended by death, divorce, or revocation.

Types of Power of Attorney in South Carolina

As noted, there are a number of types of power of attorney at use in South Carolina. These include:

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney designates a person of your choice to represent you in financial matters for an extended period of time, up to and including the time you become unable to make your own decisions. As a resident of South Carolina, you are permitted to appoint another person to:

  • Handle your assets and property
  • Sell and acquire assets on your behalf
  • Access your bank accounts and pay your bills

Since by creating a durable power of attorney you are giving another person a great deal of control, it is important that you are convinced on a deep level of that person’s integrity and ability to put your interests first when dealing with your affairs. Until January 1, 2017, unless your power of attorney document explicitly stated that the power given was “durable,” the power of attorney would cease at the time of your incapacitation. Once The South Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act took effect, however, any durable powers of attorney documents signed from then on from then on make the assumption of durability and will remain in effect if you (known as “the principal”) become incapacitated.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney, like a durable power of attorney, allows you to appoint a representative to manage your financial matters. The difference between the two is that a general power of attorney is automatically terminated when you are determined to be incapable of making your own decisions.

Limited Power of Attorney

As the name indicates, a limited power of attorney restricts the designated individual to make decisions for a very specific period of time or over only very specific actions. You will stipulate exactly how long the power of attorney will be in effect and what tasks the chosen surrogate will be handling. The limited time period may, for example, cover the duration of your surgery and recovery, or the time period when you are out of the country.

Medical (Health Care) Power of Attorney

Health care power of attorney usually charges a loved one with the task of making healthcare decisions for you if you should become unable to make your medical decisions or become unable to communicate them.

Guardian of Minor Power of Attorney

A guardian of minor power of attorney legally appoints a guardian to take over care of your children for a designated period of time. Again, this might be used to make certain who will attend to the children if you are undergoing a risky medical procedure or will be serving in the military, incapable of parenting for a specific period of time.

Real Estate Power of Attorney

When a real estate power of attorney is given to a trusted person, that person is given control only of real estate matters. The document narrows control by the appointed person to real estate decisions only, not general financial ones.

Tax Power of Attorney

There are times when you only want someone you appoint to have authority to take over your tax matters. When you appoint such a person to control your taxes, it is almost always someone with tax expertise, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A situation may arise in which you are unable to tend to issues related to your car or other vehicles. At such a time, you may give vehicle power of attorney to someone you trust to handle any matters relevant to titling and registering your vehicle with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. This type of power of attorney may be necessary if you are, for example, immobilized or otherwise incapacitated at the precise time that your car must be registered.

Canceling a Power of Attorney

You are entitled to cancel any type of power of attorney document for as long as you live. Keep in mind that when you take this legal action you must notify the person whom you had previously designated to take over for you that he or she is no longer in a position of control.

Other Changes Made by The South Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act

In an effort to simplify the laws surrounding powers of attorney legislation, this act, mentioned earlier, also replaced the term “agent,” meaning the person you (the principal) appoint to manage your affairs, with “attorney in fact,” a more descriptive word. In addition, the term “incapacity” now replaces the term “disability,” which was previously used. This is because of changes to our culture in which it is now widely recognized that just because a person has a disability does not mean that he or she is incapable of managing their asset or other legal affairs.

Other alterations made by The South Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act include:

  • If two or more “attorneys in fact” are appointed, each may act independently of the other unless stipulated otherwise in the document.
  • Attorneys, in fact, cannot make gifts of the principal’s assets or change beneficiaries unless this has been authorized within the document.
  • Attorneys, in fact, do not have access to your safety deposit box unless specifically authorized in the document.
  • When giving real estate power of attorney, the individual executing or revoking power of attorney must have “contractual capacity,” meaning an understanding of the nature of the document being signed and its consequences.
  • Misconduct or Fraud

    The attorney in fact legally has a fiduciary duty to you. This means that your appointed representative must:

    • Report all payments for power of attorney services as taxable income.
    • Is accountable to creditors or beneficiaries of your estate and may be held liable for any breach of duty, negligence, of acting out of self-interest rather than in your best interests.

    Unfortunately, any time one person gives another control of his or her assets, there is the possibility of fraud. This is why it is extremely important to have a savvy power of attorney lawyer overseeing the drafting and reviewing of documents before they are made legally binding and why the attorney, in fact, may be challenged by third parties if misconduct, financial exploitation (a form of elder abuse) or fraud is suspected. Because of the tremendous importance of giving over control of your finances or one’s children (!) to someone else, it is essential that you seek the services of a highly skilled, knowledgeable power of attorney lawyer to protect your interests. At Wiles Law Firm LLC you will find competent, compassionate attorneys dedicated to protecting you and your family both in good times and during periods of difficulty. We can be reached by phone or by filling out one of the contact forms on our website.

    Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

    Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

    Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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