On November 7, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) into law. The UPOAA repeals the durable power of attorney provisions in the Estates and Protected Individuals Code. It goes into effect on July 1, 2024.

We want to assure our clients that this transition will not impact any existing powers of attorney that have been executed in accordance with Michigan’s requirements at the time.

Because there may be some specific instances where older documents do need to be updated, we are offering a free 20-minute consultation to individuals who want to learn about updating their older powers of attorney. Schedule your meeting today!

Generally, the UPOAA is more detailed than current Michigan law on durable powers of attorney. One significant change introduced by the UPOAA is the term “durable” for power of attorney. Under previous Michigan law, powers of attorney automatically terminated if the principal became incapacitated unless explicitly addressed in the document.  Additionally, the UPOAA includes detailed provisions outlining time of effectiveness, acceptance, termination, co-agents, and successor agents, the resignation of an agent, the authority of agents, liability for abuses of power of attorney, and protections for agents acting in the best interests of the principal. These provisions aim to provide more clarity and protection in power of attorney matters.

We want to emphasize that our commitment to our clients remains steadfast, and we have been proactively adopting these practices for years to ensure the highest level of service and legal protection. Our goal is to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive support, and the UPOAA aligns with our mission of safeguarding your interests.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the UPOAA or your existing powers of attorney, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to ensure that your legal matters are handled with the utmost care and expertise.

ICLE Legal Update | Posted 11/08/23
Michigan Adopts Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA)

The UPOAA is a model statute developed by the Uniform Law Commission in 2006. Michigan joins 30 states and the District of Columbia in adopting this statute (or a substantially similar statute), which provides consistency in the application of powers of attorney as people change states and allows Michigan to benefit from the jurisprudence of other states.

The UPOAA applies to all written records that grant authority to an agent to act on behalf of a principal with certain exceptions. Section 103. It does not invalidate powers of attorney executed before enactment as long as those powers were executed in accordance with Michigan’s requirements at the time the power was enacted. Section 106.

The UPOAA changes how a durable power of attorney is created. Under current Michigan law, powers of attorney automatically terminate if the principal is incapacitated unless the contract explicitly addresses durability. MCL 700.5501(1). Under the UPOAA, a power of attorney does not need to explicitly state it is durable. Instead, a power is durable if it is (1) acknowledged by the principal before a notary or (2) signed in the presence of two witnesses (neither may be the agent nominated in the power and one may also serve as the notary) with both witnesses also signing the durable power of attorney. Section 105(2). A power of attorney that is not notarized or witnessed is effective under the UPOAA but not durable. Section 105(1).

Current Michigan law does not outline an agent’s authority in detail, but the UPOAA contains various provisions outlining what an agent can and cannot do. Under the UPOAA, an agent does not have the right, unless expressly granted, to make any changes to a living trust, give gifts, alter rights of survivorship, create or change beneficiaries, further delegate the authority created by the power of attorney, waive the principal’s right to certain entitlements, exercise fiduciary powers that the principal has authority to delegate or control the principal’s electronic communications or financial accounts in a foreign country. Section 201. The UPOAA also specifically details an agent’s general authority regarding real property, tangible personal property, stocks and bonds, commodities and options, banks and other financial institutions, entity or business operations, insurance and annuities, estates and trusts, claims and litigation, personal and family maintenance, government or military benefits, retirement plans, and taxes. Sections 204–217.

The UPOAA rules for when an agent is held liable for an abuse of a power of attorney are more specific than those under current Michigan law. An agent who violates the UPOAA is liable for the amount required to restore the value of the principal’s property to what it would have been had the violation not occurred, including attorney fees and costs. Section 117(1). An agent is liable for three times the value of the property if the agent embezzles or converts the principal’s property or refuses to transfer possession of the principal’s property to the principal on demand. Section 117(2).

The UPOAA also offers more protections for agents who also benefit from their efforts as long as the principal receives some improved standing. Therefore, an agent who acts with “care, competence, and diligence” for the best interests of the principal would not be held liable under the UPOAA if the agent also benefits from the act. Section 114(4).

Overall, the UPOAA is far more detailed than current Michigan law on durable powers of attorney. The UPOAA also contains provisions regarding the time of effectiveness (section 109), acceptance (section 113), termination (section 110), coagents and successor agents (section 111), and the resignation of an agent (section 118). The UPOAA provides a statutory form of power of attorney (section 301), an agent’s acknowledgment (section 302), and a certification of the validity of a power of attorney and agent’s authority (section 303), all of which can be modified as needed.

Source: ICLE