Powers of Attorney


Powers of Attorney Give Flexibility & Protection

A “power of attorney” is merely a document, by which one person can designate an agent to assist them, or to act for them in matters of financial & business affairs, or in the event of incapacity.

Michigan law refers to financial/business powers of attorney as “Durable Powers”, which can be effective either immediately, or upon disability. I refer to them as financial/business powers of attorney, for clarity’s sake, and to distinguish them from medical or health care power of attorney documents.

The term “durable power” comes from MCLA §700.5501, which indicates that it is not affected by the later disability or incapacity of the “principal”, a term which refers to the one who designates another to be his agent. It seems self-evident that the reason to set up the power of attorney in the first place, is that it enables the principal’s wishes (financial or health care-related) to be carried out, even though the principal him/herself cannot carry out those wishes on their own, without the help of an agent of some type.

Importantly, in order to execute and implement either a financial power, or a medical power of attorney, one must be of sound mind. These documents cannot lawfully be signed or implemented, once the person is mentally disabled.

You can actually designate the person you want to step in on your behalf, to make medical decisions; in Michigan this person is called a “Patient Advocate”.

If prepared and executed properly, under Michigan’s “Estate & Protected Individuals Code“, a “Patient Advocate Designation” (or PAD) can be effective to carry out your wishes, and can spare your family and loved ones a lot of unnecessary heartache. Talk to Richmond/St. Clair County attorney Jon Frank about preparing a “Patient Advocate Designation” to make sure your medical care wishes are carried out, whatever your condition. 

On a related issue, Michigan statutory law has provided for the scenario, in which the patient can establish and execute a “Do Not Resuscitate Order” (DNR), instructing health care professionals not to attempt life-resuscitating efforts.  For obvious reasons, a person covered by such an order must have documentation of a DNR Order (often, by means of a hospital-type bracelet worn by the patient, with certain information made visible to anyone looking at it).

Again, because of the sensitivity of the issue, DNR Orders must be executed in strict compliance with Michigan law. We will be glad to assist you with anyquestions you might have about preparing a Patient Advocate Designation, or DNR Order.


You will not likely be hiring me as a “Guardians Ad Litem”, but you might have to deal with one, after we file our Petition for Guardianship, Conservatorship, or other Probate Court petition. 

Guardians Ad Litem, or GAL’s are local attorneys, appointed by the Probate Judge, to help investigate and report to the Judge on the merits of the Petition. A GAL’s duty might be to see if a certain petition should be granted, or to ensure that the rights of a vulnerable person are protected. I myself serve as a GAL in local courts.

A GAL is required to visit, and to report to the Court. If you have a Probate Court matter, involving a GAL, you would be wise to cooperate with that GAL. Because you know the Judge hearing your matter has regarded this attorney enough to appoint him/her as a GAL, it is a fair bet that the Judge will follow their recommendations closely. Call me, or e-mail me with any questions you might have on probate, or any other issues raised anywhere in this website.

Michigan law requires a little bit of drama and ceremony, for the proper execution of a financial power of attorney. Given the significant powers and responsibilities that an agent takes on, the purpose of such requirements is to make certain that the power of attorney document, and relationship, was set up intentionally.

The requirements for the proper execution of a financial power of attorney document are as follows:
  1. The “principal”, or the person designating someone else as their agent, must sign in front of a notary.
  2. Additionally, that notarized signature must be witnessed by two individuals, neither of whom is the agent (aka “attorney in fact”).
  3. The agent acknowledges that he/she knowingly assumes the responsibilities set forth in the power of attorney document
I handle these power of attorney executions, or signings, as follows:
  1. As a notary public, I notarize the document;
  2. I have two witnesses, who meet the state law criteria;
  3. I have the agent acknowledge their responsibilities as required by the statute; and
  4. I explain the requirements to everyone.

As well, I leave two fully executed copies of the document with the principal and agent, and I take one fully executed copy back to my office, where I scan it to my hard drive, and where it is backed up routinely. That way, you will never have to worry about losing your document. I am only as far away as a phone call, and I will gladly provide you another copy.

Frequently Asked Questions. Honest Answers.

In a “power of attorney” document, one person gives to another, the right to act on their behalf in certain situations, subject to the limitations in the “power of attorney” document.
In the law, there is a concept called “principal & agency”. The “principal” is the boss, the person giving the authority to someone else, while the “agent” is the employee, the person acting on the boss’ authority.

In addition to the “Power of Attorney” documents referred to above, most such documents which are drawn and executed according to the law of another state, will usually be respected in Michigan.

Yes. Typically, a “Power of Attorney”, must be notarized AND witnessed, by two “disinterested” persons. By “disinterested”, the law means that anyone given authority in a POA document, or anyone whose rights might be affected in some other way, by a POA document, cannot serve as a witness.
As a lawyer licensed in Michigan only, I cannot give advice as to how POA’s should be executed in other states, where it is expected that the duties of the agent will be discharged in Michigan. However, there are some legal authorities who make the sound recommendation, that a POA drawn & executed in another state, which is expected to be implemented here in Michigan, be notarized and witnessed according to our standards.

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