This is the fourth post in my series of articles addressing the importance of estate planning for Las Vegas, Nevada residents. My last post discussed Nevada’s requirements for a legally binding Last Will and Testament. This article will go over the requirements for a power of attorney under our state’s laws. A power of attorney is an important legal document that everyone needs in the event of incapacity. Nevada law provides for the proper provisions to include in a power of attorney to be enforceable. Experienced counsel will be able to ensure your power of attorney is compliant with state law and able to be used if you are ever incapacitated. If you need assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes an agent to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to make financial and healthcare decisions for yourself. Under Nevada law, a power of attorney must be signed by the principal (the individual making the document). For the principal’s signature to be presumed as genuine, a notary public must also sign the document and acknowledge the signature of the principal. There are more legal requirements to be met if the principal resides in a hospital, assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility at the time of executing the document. If the principal is in one of these facilities, a certification of competency must be attached to the power of attorney. This certificate must include a statement from a qualifying healthcare professional that the principal is competent to sign the power of attorney. The instrument is immediately effective upon signing unless the document states otherwise. For example, the power of attorney may provide that it is only effective if the principal is deemed incapacitated by a physician. If only effective upon incapacity, the agent will have to provide the physician certification to a financial institution in order to use the power of attorney. The document may also be a general power of attorney or more limited in scope. If the power of attorney grants broad powers to the agent, typically an agent can act on behalf of the principal regarding most financial matters. If the document limits the scope of authority of the agent, the agent may only be able to act in specific instances such as the sale of real property. This is also true for healthcare decision-making. The principal has the power to limit the scope in which the agent can act, specifically as it relates to life sustaining treatment decisions.
It is important that if you need to update or amend the power of attorney, that the amendment also complies with the legal formalities. It is also necessary to explicitly revoke a prior power of attorney to ensure the new document takes effect. If you have previously provided authority to a healthcare institution or financial institution, you must provide them with your new and amended document. Individuals who wish to establish a valid power of attorney should understand the legal requirements that must be followed to ensure the document is valid. Failure to properly execute the document or include the necessary provisions could prevent it from being enforceable. We cannot overemphasize the importance of consulting with an experienced lawyer to assist you. A lawyer can help guide you through the various options available to you to ensure your document meets your wishes. If you need assistance, contact our office to speak with a Las Vegas lawyer today.