When is the Financial Power of Attorney in Effect — Immediately or Springing?

It has happened.  Your loved one is incapable of making financial decisions and it is your time to step in.  You take the Power of Attorney nominating you as Agent to their bank and the representative tells you they cannot accept your document and provide no reason why. Unfortunately, we frequently get calls like this from frustrated Agents.

One potential reason could be due to the effective date of the document.  In Arizona there are two options when the Power of Attorney becomes effective: 

  1. Effective immediately upon signature.  The Agent can act now — as soon as they sign. Regardless of the Principal’s capacity, the Agent can step in and transact business for the benefit of the Principal.
  2. Springing — document ‘springs’ into action upon disability diagnosis. Oftentimes this is the reason a bank will not accept the Financial Power of Attorney document.  The bank needs confirmation that the Principal can no longer handle financial matters.  In this instance, the document should provide instruction on what you need to do, which usually requires the written statement of incapacity from one (or two) physicians to be effective.  Often, in times of crisis, it is difficult for the Agent to track down treating physicians to get statement(s) of incapacity. 

If you need to act as Agent under Financial Power of Attorney, you should always review your Power of Attorney to see when it becomes effective. As Agent, you should also consult with an elder law attorney regarding your duties and responsibilities as Agent and scope of authority under the document. If you are acting as Agent for someone and have any questions, contact the attorneys at Bivens & Associates, PLLC to schedule a consultation: telephone (480) 922-1010 or email info@bivenslaw.com.