Plan improves procedures for powers of attorney, helps ensure they’re accepted
State Representative Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp), earlier this week, introduced legislation to replace Michigan’s Durable Power of Attorney statute with legislation based on the Uniform Power of Attorney Act that have been enacted by 30 other states and is being considered by several more.
“As an Elder Law attorney, I have worked in this area of law for many years and, while it is still a useful tool in assisting many of my clients, I have come to appreciate that it needs to be updated and improved for the benefit of our more vulnerable family members and those who assist them with their affairs,” said Wozniak.
According to the non-partisan, non-profit Uniform Law Commission, the concept of a “power of attorney” was first incorporated into the Uniform Probate Code in 1969 to offer an inexpensive method of surrogate decision making to those whose modest assets did not warrant pre-incapacity planning with a trust or post-incapacity asset management with a guardianship.”
After more than fifty years, powers of attorney are now used by people of all economic means for incapacity-planning, as well as convenience.
Over the years, many states had adopted non-uniform provisions to deal with issues on which the Uniform Probate Code and the Durable Power of Attorney Act were silent. The modernized Uniform Power of Attorney Act provides uniformity on these issues and enhances the usefulness of the law.
“To ensure that the provision of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act align properly with Michigan law, a State Bar of Michigan workgroup spent countless hours reviewing existing statute and ensuring that the proposed changes align with existing statutes,” said Wozniak. “My bills are based on the State Bar’s recommendations.”
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“As an attorney who spent many years representing the interests the elderly, the vulnerable and the infirm in Macomb County’s Probate Court, I know firsthand how hard the judges and staff of our court work to ensure hearings are held in a timely manner,” Wozniak said during his testimony. “But with only two judges on the bench, it’s not been easy for them to do.”