Not only do I have some good news, but I have good news coming from our Texas Legislature! In 2017, our representatives chose to clarify the Texas Estates Code regarding power of attorney so that things are easier for both the agent acting with power of attorney and the person accepting the power of attorney (like banks or mortgage companies). House Bill 1974 was signed into law and there are 3 changes that you need to know about.
- Previously used forms may or may not have had a section that revokes prior agent’s authority when a new power of attorney form is signed. A new section of the law says that you must expressly revoke previous powers of attorney. What does that mean? Let’s say, 10 years ago you gave power of attorney to your brother, Abe. Since then, you changed your mind and decided that you don’t want him to be able to act as your agent, and you signed a new form making your sister, Abby your agent. Abe might still have the power to act for you. Updating your powers of attorney will ensure that the appropriate agent is making decisions on your behalf.
- There is specific language in the law that gives options for the types of powers that you can give—or specifically not to give—your agent. What does that mean? Let’s say that you want your sister, Abby to be able to change the beneficiaries of your estate. You can now do that more easily! If you want to make sure that your brother, Abe is not allowed to amend your trust, you can do that more easily as well.
- The experts in Texas probate law meticulously went through the existing law and suggested changes to our legislature so that things would be clearer, more effective, and give better protections for all parties. They suggested language that needs to be in all power of attorney forms beginning September 1, 2017. What does that mean? Let’s say that you are incapacitated, and your sister Abby needs to go to your bank to handle some business for you, and she takes an old power of attorney form that you signed prior to 2017. Legally, the bank has the right to refuse to let Abby act for you if the paperwork is confusing and/or has a certain amount of time to check with their lawyers before denying or accepting her power. However, if you have the new form with all the correct information included, Abby is less likely to run into problems.
This new power of attorney form—as well as other disability forms designed to carry out your wishes—are included in our estate planning packages. Schedule an appointment today so that we can personalize your documents to effectively protect you and your loved ones.