Power of Attorney

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What Is a Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is one of the most versatile estate planning tools available. A power of attorney is a document which allows you to give give authority to another person to act on your behalf.

The person creating the power of attorney is known as the principal. The person who receives the authority to act on the principal's behalf is known as the agent or the "attorney-in-fact." The attorney-in-fact doesn't have to be an actual attorney, but can be anyone you choose.

The principal decides the scope of the power of attorney. For example, you can give an attorney-in-fact the power of attorney for one simple investment. On the other hand, you can also make the power of attorney unlimited. One limit, however, is that you cannot grant the power to make a will.

Any power of attorney ends with the death of the principal.

What Types of Decisions Are Authorized by a Power of Attorney?

There are several standard powers that can be included, such as the ability to pay bills, transfer funds, or complete business transactions. However, there may be more specific reasons you want to execute a power of attorney.

Almost any decision you can imagine can be delegated by a power of attorney. Blank forms include many standard powers, yet if there is a substantial amount of money at stake, or if it is some other important decision, a specific power of attorney is much more likely to be accepted as valid. It is wise to consult an attorney in drafting the power of attorney to insure that it is effective when it is needed most: at the time the decision needs to be made.

Is There Only One Type of Power of Attorney?

In fact, there are three types of powers of attorney, a limited power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a springing power of attorney:

Do I Need an Attorney to Draft My Power of Attorney?

The enforceability of a power of attorney is not always clear. A qualified estate planning attorney can aid in the drafting of an enforceable power of attorney. An attorney will also be able to protect your legal interests.

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Last Modified: 01-10-2017 09:20 AM PST

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