Utah Enacts New Power of Attorney Law

Last month the new Utah Uniform Power of Attorney Act went into effect. A power of attorney (POA) signed after May 10, 2016 must be done in compliance with this new law. As a refresher, a POA is a document that allows you to appoint another person or organization, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to handle your affairs. The POA can be general in nature or limited to specified powers. A POA can authorize someone else to act on your behalf, so he or she can do things like pay everyday expenses, collect benefits, watch over your investments, and file taxes. The POA can be effective upon signing or it can “spring” into existence upon the happening of a specified event, such as disability. Under the new law, a POA is presumed to be effective when you are disabled. This is what is meant by a durable POA.This is a change from prior law that required the POA to state that it was durable.One major change under the new law is that a third-party is required to accept the POA and work with your agent except in certain limited circumstances. Those circumstances would be that the person is not otherwise required to engage in a transaction with you in the same circumstances; engaging in the transaction would be inconsistent with federal law; the person has actual knowledge of the termination of the agent's authority under the POA or of the power of attorney; or a request for a certification of the POA, a translation, or an opinion of counsel was refused. This is an important change as one of the challenges with POAs had been the willingness of third parties to accept them or to require their own special form.While existing POAs are not nullified by the new law, if you have previously executed a POA I would encourage you to meet with a competent attorney to ensure that your POA is up to date.