Thursday, June 19, 2014

PA POA Reform legislation on Governor's Desk

On June 18, 2014, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives adopted (193-0) the amended, compromise version of House Bill 1429, in Printer's No. 3708, regarding power of attorney reform.  The adopted legislation was transmitted to the Governor for signing into law on June 24, 2014. [Update: The Governor signed the legislation into law on July 2, 2014, as Act No. 95 of 2014.  See Update below.]

[Corrections on 06/23 & 24/14: Before going to the Governor, the  legislation required signature in the Senate also, as a formality.  That occurred on Monday June 23, 2014.  Thereafter, the legislation was sent to the Governor on June 24th for consideration and, with his agreement, signature into law.]

This is the formal summary of the legislation:
An Act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in powers of attorney, further providing for general provisions and for special rules for gifts; providing for agent's duties and for principles of law and equity; further providing for form of power of attorney, for implementation of power of attorney and for liability; providing for liability for refusal to accept power of attorney and for activities through employees; and further providing for validity.
For background, see: PA EE&F Law Blog posting, PA Power of Attorney Reform Legislation Moves (06/17/14).

The legislation was debated for more than a year between the Pennsylvania House and Senate, and among various interest groups, including the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Banker's Association, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, upon proposals offered in two study reports issued by the Joint State Government Commission's Advisory Committee on Decedents Estate Laws.

With compromise and agreement attained by the advocacy groups, as evidenced by the mutual legislative adoptions in the past few days, I assume that the legislation will be signed into law by Governor Corbett.  A House sponsor of HB 1429 also seems positive about the legislation becoming law soon.  See: Keller’s Bill to Amend Power of Attorney Act Heads to Governor’s Desk (06/18/14).

Since his days as Pennsylvania' Attorney General, Tom Corbett has supported measures to curb and prosecute financial elder abuse.  This legislation contributes significantly towards that end.  Though not a gambler, I would bet this legislation will be signed by him, soon, to become law.

If so, the effective date for many provisions involving drafting of a document would be January 1, 2015.  

However, other provisions generally regarding effectiveness, presentment, recognition, or enforcement of a power of attorney document would be effective immediately:  "The amendment or addition of 20 Pa.C.S. §§ 5601(f) , 5608, 5608.1, 5608.2, 5611 and 5612 shall take effect immediately."

Those provisions to become effective immediately include:
  • § 5601(f)  Definitions. -- The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: 
    "Agent." A person designated by a principal in a power of attorney to act on behalf of that principal.
    "Good faith." Honesty in fact.
  • § 5608  Acceptance of and reliance upon power of attorney.
  • § 5608.1  Liability for refusal to accept power of attorney.
  • § 5608.2. Activities through employees.
  • § 5611. Validity.
  • § 5612. Principles of law and equity.

Update: 07/07/14:

The Legislature's online bill information service posted an update on Monday, July 7, 2014, indicating that Governor Corbett signed the legislation into law, as Act No. 95 of 2014.