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What is Power of Attorney? POA Explained

Power Of Attorney

Planning for a time when you may be unable to make financial or health decisions for yourself is a great way to ensure your plans are carried out well even if you cannot vocalize it yourself.

This article will go over what exactly a Power of Attorney is, what kinds of POAs are there, as well as how someone becomes a Power of Attorney.

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants another person called your “agent” or “attorney in fact,” the power to act on your behalf. This agent will act on the particular power you choose to give them and cannot go beyond what you specify in the POA paperwork you fill out. This power gives typically them the right to make financial decisions, sign legal documents on your behalf, health decisions and more. Again, your agent can only make decisions on your behalf depending on what you give them the power to do. There are additional limitations imposed upon your agent by law.

Types Of Power Of Attorney

There are several types of power of attorney, including general, limited, health care, durable and childcare. Here’s a look at each of these types.

General Durable Power Of Attorney

With a general durable power of attorney, the agent you’ve given the POA to will only handle your affairs for the period of time that you specify, which may be only a few hours or the rest of your life. When you grant someone general power of attorney, it usually means they can buy, rent and sell property on your behalf, as well as handle your financial transactions, unlock your safety deposit box, settle any claims, buy life insurance and enter into contracts. If you need, you can also grant your general power of attorney the ability to maintain any business interests as well. 

Limited Power Of Attorney

Limited, also known as “special” power of attorney doesn’t give as much power to the agent that general power of attorney does. Limited power of attorney allows someone to act your behalf only for a specific situation and limits their power to certain tasks as well. 

Durable Power Of Attorney

The purpose of a durable POA is to plan for medical emergencies, cognitive decline later in life, or other situations where you’re no longer able or capable of making decisions. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect if you become mentally incapacitated. Without this durable language in the paperwork, the person to whom you’ve granted power of attorney can only exercise any power that is also accessible to you.

Because a durable power of attorney allows your agent to carry out the powers you’ve granted them regardless of your health and ability, it’s especially important to grant this power to someone whom you trust completely.

Health Care Power Of Attorney

Health care power of attorney, also called medical power of attorney, gives your appointed agent the power to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

In your power of attorney document, you can name a doctor who is charged with making the decision of your competency. You can also require that two licensed physicians must agree on your condition.

In practice, the healthcare powers are often included in a single general durable power of attorney, bestowing health care powers upon the same agent having power of your financial and other concerns.

Child Care Power Of Attorney

Child care power of attorney is where you appoint an agent to take care of your children temporarily. This can be used if you are facing jail time or going into a rehabilitation facility. This POA can prevent you from losing custody of your children while you recover.

When Does My Power of Attorney End?

Power of attorney will automatically end when you pass away. A durable POA will also end if:

  • It is revoked. As long as you are mentally competent, you can revoke your document at any time.
  • No agent is available. You can name an alternate agent in your document to prevent this from happening.
  • A court invalidates your document. Though rare, a court may declare your document invalid if it concludes that you were not mentally competent when you signed it, or that you were the victim of fraud or undue influence.
  • Divorce. If your spouse is named as your agent in your POA in Alabama, that designation automatically ends once either of you files for divorce or annulment. So your ex-spouse’s power to act as your agent ends, but your POA will still be intact. So if you named a successor agent, that person would become your agent.
  • Death. A power of attorney ceases to have any legal effect upon your death.
  • Expiration. If a power of attorney expressly expires upon a date certain or upon the occurrence of a particular event, it will cease to have any legal effect. However, it is good practice to execute a revocation of your power attorney when you no longer need it. 

Get Quality Professional Legal Help 

An experienced power of attorney lawyer can help you address legal matters that can affect your quality of life and health. You’ll need an expert to interpret complex Alabama laws and you’ll want the very best to help you plan for your loved ones.

At Brackin & Johnson, our expert attorneys can assist you or your loved ones with planning for long term care and ensuring that your medical needs are met should the time come when you or your family member can no longer care for themselves.
We will work with you to ensure that your future is laid out in writing. If you’re searching for a skilled attorney specializing in estate planning, living wills, and power of attorney, get in touch with us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

DIY Divorce? Think Again

Diy Divorce

You may think getting a DIY divorce without an attorney present will save you money and can take you a shortcut. While it is true that Alabama does not require people getting a divorce to have legal representation, the dangers associated with a DIY divorce can be devastating.

Not having an attorney on your side during your divorce can make or break you financially and emotionally, especially if your divorce turns out to be a lengthy and expensive process. This article will go over why you should rethink getting a DIY divorce in the state of Alabama.

Divorce in Alabama: What You Should Know

Here are some of the most important facts and definitions to know before you file for divorce:

Contested and Uncontested Divorces

In Alabama, a contested divorce is when one or both parties either fight the divorce itself, or when they cannot agree on a key part of the divorce. A contested divorce will see both parties dealing with court and possibly mediation. An uncontested divorce is where both parties agree on all key issues and without having to go to court.

Residency Requirements

Alabama only has one residency requirement and that is: if the spouse who isn’t filing the divorce lives out-of-state, then the spouse who is filing for divorce must have been a resident of Alabama for six months before filing the divorce. However, even if the residency requirement is met, there may still be jurisdictional issues. 

Waiting Period

The waiting period to obtain a divorce in Alabama is 30 days, which is a relatively short amount of time. Granted, many of the divorce cases cannot be resolved due to disputes or other complications.

Reasons to Not Get a DIY Divorce

Reason #1: Lack of Expertise

When navigating your own divorce, there may be important pieces of information you will miss out due to how much you need to do and know. Missing out on information can hurt your case and cost you time and money. A divorce attorney’s council during mediation(if you have a contested divorce) can be invaluable. When you DIY your divorce, there are situations only an experienced divorce lawyer knows how to handle with finesse and ease, such as asset distribution, child custody, and property allocation.

Reason #2: Potential for Mistakes

There are many forms and documents to fill out and file during the divorce process. These can be a little confusing and can lead you to making some mistakes when filing, which can in turn make you miss deadlines or cost you more money out of pocket.

Reason #3: Increases Worry and Stress 

Not having any help with something so personal and life changing as divorce can increase the amount of stress and anxiety that you may already be dealing with. When going through a divorce, the peace of mind a divorce lawyer’s expertise gives is priceless and incredibly helpful. 

Reason #4: Higher Costs

After the judge signs the final order, quite a few of the terms of your divorce cannot be changed. This risks you getting a settlement you don’t agree with. When going DIY, the biggest reason is usually to save money. In reality, DIY may actually cost you quite a bit of money that you didn’t expect to pay, due to missed deadlines and wrong filings.

Reason #5: You May Have to go to Court 

In some cases, if you are filing for an uncontested divorce, you won’t have to go to trial or even visit court most times, as long as you have the proper paperwork filled out, have all the correct information on that paperwork and know how to file and all of the deadlines. Attorneys help with these kinds of things in case you miss or omit any information.

If you do not have an attorney, and you choose to go DIY, this may land you in court no matter what. The judge assigned to your case may require you to come in and personally review and fix your information before going forward. Again, this is another case of when DIY works against you and not for you when it comes to divorce court.

Professional Legal Advice You Can Trust 

At Brackin & Johnson, we get the results you deserve when you need them most. With more than 40 years of experience, we can provide comprehensive care and representation tailored to your needs and unique situation. 

We focus on resolving conflicts peacefully through negotiation or mediation, but are ready to fight for you if your case ends up going in front of a judge. The best way to settle a case favorably is to prepare for trial. 
Contact us today for the best legal services in Baldwin County. We are ready to help you understand your legal options and create the best case for your interests.

Things to Know About Divorce in Alabama

Divorce In Alabama

Going through a divorce can make you feel lonely and confused. Having quality representation and knowledge on your side is a great way to go into the proceedings with confidence. While not all divorces have to conclude with an adversarial trial proceeding, yours might, and you want to make sure you know your rights and get exactly what you deserve after all is said and done.

Divorce laws can vary from state to state, so this article will go over divorces in Alabama and what to expect before, during, and after legal proceedings. Let’s go over all of the facts and processes you will want to know when filing for divorce in Alabama. 

Steps for Filing for Divorce

Let’s go over the most common steps to begin your divorce. These are basic steps and you may need to adjust to your specifics (assets, children, etc.):

  • First Step:  Meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file. Alabama residency requirements are stated below.
  • Second Step:  Have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end the marriage. The standard grounds for divorce in Alabama include incompatibility, adultery, cruelty, habitual drunkenness, incurable insanity, and “the commission of the crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast, either before or after marriage.”
  • Third Step:  File a Complaint for Divorce and have your spouse spouse served in accordance with the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • Fourth Step: Your spouse will file an “answer” the the Complaint admitting or denying the allegations and may also file a Counterclaim for Divorce. The case will be set for trial and you may have to attend a series of court appearances to sort out any temporary matters. 
  • Fifth Step: Property, custody of children, or financial support from your spouse will be resolved in an out-of-court settlement, or in a trial.

When will my divorce be effective?

A Final Judgment of Divorce becomes final thirty days after it is entered. 

No Fault Divorce Laws

Alabama offers “no fault” divorces, which mean you do not have to prove or even allege any specific wrongdoing in order to get divorced. Instead, you just have to show the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage and that further attempts to reconcile haven’t worked and are futile or not in the best interest of all parties/family. Annulments (marriage is wiped off the books) and legal separations (still legally married, just live apart) are also viable options, however, each have their own requirements and are only permitted in certain limited circumstances. 

What is a temporary order?

A temporary order is typically entered by the Court in response to temporary or “pendente lite” motions filed by either party soon after the filing of the initial complaint. These orders are issued to help keep the child custody and financial situations steady and fair. Either side of the divorce can ask the court for a temporary order to give spousal support, child support, custody rights, visitation and residence of the marital home. Once a final judgment is issued in the divorce case, the temporary order is no longer effective. In other words, the final order supersedes the temporary order.

What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Alabama?

Residency requirements are in place to show how long each spouse needs to live in the state of Alabama before they can file for divorce in that state. The amount of time that you or your spouse has to live in Alabama before filing will depend on if one or both of you live in Alabama at that time. The requirements are as follows:

  • If both spouses are residents of Alabama then a divorce can be filed at any time.
  • If only the person filing for the divorce is a resident of Alabama and the other spouse lives in another state, then the person filling must have been a resident of Alabama for at least 6 months immediately before filing for the divorce; or
  • If only the defendant is a resident of Alabama but the person filing for divorce lives in another state, a divorce can be filed at any time.
  • Notwithstanding the above, a divorce may be filed in Alabama if it is the last place the parties resided as a married couple. 

Seeking a Divorce in Alabama? We are Here for You.

At Brackin & Johnson, we get the results you deserve when you need them most. With more than 40 years of experience, we can provide comprehensive care and representation tailored to your needs and unique situation. 

We focus on resolving conflicts peacefully through negotiation or mediation, but are ready to fight for you if your case ends up going in front of a judge. The best way to settle a case favorably is to prepare for trial. 

Contact us today for the best legal services in Baldwin County. We are ready to help you understand your legal options and create the best case for your interests.

Contact Brackin & Johnson Today!

We produce results by getting our clients what they are entitled to receive.

(251) 943-4040

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