What Is A Power Of Attorney? [2021]

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What Is A Power Of Attorney?

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What Is A Power Of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person the power to act on behalf of another. The person who appoints is known as the principal while the person appointed and given a power of attorney is known as an agent or an attorney-in-fact.

The agent is given legal authority to represent the principal in all or specified matters (Desai & Giwa, 2019).  

A power of attorney may exist in the verbal or written state but is most viable in court when there is written evidence of the act.

An agent may be given power of attorney to act on the principal’s property, financial aspects, and medical decisions.

How Long Is A Power Of Attorney Good For?

The power may end only if the principal dies, if the principal revokes the power, if the court invalidates the attorney, if the agent resigns, or when there is a divorce between the principal and the spouse who was also an agent.

The principal should appoint a trustworthy person who acts in the interest of the principal, and one who respects the decisions of the principal, and one who will not abuse power bestowed upon him or her.

What Can A Power Of Attorney Do?

There are many reasons that necessitate one to appoint a power of attorney. They include: if one travels out of the country regularly and is not in a position to monitor his or her business well, when one is working in a hazardous environment, when one is diagnosed with a severe illness, when one is approaching old age, when one has specific ways and rules to run his or her business and would like them implemented, when one has children to provide for even after incapacitation, and when one wants a specific person to run his or her affairs (Shepherd et al., 2019).

The agent appointed can be a trusted family member, a friend, an acquaintance, or a spouse.

The agent can be given power of attorney to act on behalf of the principal on all matters as allowed by the state or can be given the power to act only on specified activities for a limited time.

The Different Types Of Power Of Attorney

There are several types of power of attorney, which include: general, durable, medical, special, and springing durable.

General Power Of Attorney

The general power of attorney allows the agent to act upon almost all matters of the principal, including financial matters, and this power ends with the incapacitation of the principal.

Durable Power Of Attorney

Unlike the general, durable power of attorney continues even after the principal is incapacitated (Lawson & Seidman, 2017).

Medical Power Of Attorney

The medical power of attorney allows the agent to make healthcare decisions concerning the principal (Heesters et al., 2017).

Special Power Of Attorney

Special or limited power of attorney gives the agent specific powers on specified areas, for instance, collecting debts or selling a real estate property.

Springing Power Of Attorney

Springing durable power of attorney comes into action only after a specified event occurs; for instance, when the principal dies or becomes mentally unstable, that is only when the agent powers are enacted. 

Of Sound Mind

A power of attorney is only valid if it was signed when the principal was of sound mind. There should be a medical record provided to show the mental state of the principal when he was assigning the power (Donlan & Peiros, 2020).

The principal should verify the documents and the transactions undertaken by the agent, even if the agent is trustworthy. If the principal is not in a position to do so, the documents and transactions should be presented to a third party.

An agent is only liable for intentional misconduct and not any other act committed on behalf of the principal. The principal can have one or many agents representing him or her. Many agents ensure a sound decision, but they may be problematic if they do not work together. 

Power Of Attorney Forms

Power Of Attorney Forms

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Thanks for reading: What is a power of attorney?

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REFERENCES

Desai, A., & Giwa, A. O. (2019). Power of Attorney.

Donlan, T., & Peiros, K. (2020). The power, the attorney, and the conflict transaction. Taxation in Australia54(11), 639.

Heesters, A. M., Buchman, D. Z., Anstey, K. W., Bell, J. A., Russell, B. J., & Wright, L. (2017). Power of attorney for research: The need for a clear legal mechanism. Public Health Ethics10(1), 100-104.

Lawson, G., & Seidman, G. I. (2017). “A Great Power of Attorney”: Understanding the Fiduciary Constitution. University Press of Kansas.

Shepherd, V., Griffith, R., Hood, K., Sheehan, M., & Wood, F. (2019). ‘There’s more to life than money and health’: Family caregivers’ views on the role of Power of Attorney in proxy decisions about research participation for people living with dementia. Dementia, 1471301219884426.

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