Powers of attorney (POA) are tools that can help individuals plan for both short-term and long-term disability. These tools allow the individual (the “principal”) to choose whom they want to make decisions for them if they are unable, and decide the extent of power they want to assign in the event of incapacitation. It is a frequent misunderstanding that powers of attorney allow the agent to now act as the individual’s attorney; this is not the case. A power of attorney does not substitute for a law school degree and bar license.
Kentucky law and powers of attorney have been vague. Because our statutory law was so vague, legal drafters had prepared one page powers of attorney that did not meet Kentucky requirements or the clients’ needs. Similarly, Kentucky health-care and financial institutions have refused powers of attorney (even the well-drafted, highly specific ones) because there was no law limiting the liability those individuals accepting the power of attorney could incur. The result has been two-fold: 1) The power of attorney is powerless, and; 2) An advocate needed to utilize the complicated process of establishing a guardianship.