What Power of Attorney Is
Have you heard about ‘Power of Attorney’? Why do people have it? You may not know it now, but it could be what you need today. To begin with, the power of attorney is a legally effective document that states your agreement to give somebody else (a relative, a friend, or an employee) an authority to make special decisions or to do several things on your behalf. It is recognized in common law and civil law systems. It could be a legal or a business matter.
If you get a power of attorney for your own use, you could call yourself a ‘principal,’ a ‘granter,’ or a ‘donor’ (of power). The other person to whom you are intentionally providing powers or authority is called the ‘agent’ or the ‘attorney-in-fact.’ Take note that just because the term ‘attorney’ is used does not necessarily mean that you need to give an authority only to a lawyer. Your agent or attorney-in-fact could be of any profession, not necessarily a lawyer.
There are many things you should understand about power of attorney. First, execution of the power you bestowed does not mean you no longer have to make the decisions. Take note that the power of attorney just mandates your agent to act for you. For instance, if you are suddenly hospitalized even for a short period and you need to continue your important banking transactions, you need to get a power of attorney and appoint anyone you trust to do errands for you.
The agent should just follow your instructions or directions especially if you are still very much capable of making your own decisions. Thus, it is like you are just sharing your authority or power with another person. In the same way, you could instantly revoke the authority you gave your agent anytime you like especially if you think you are dissatisfied and are dubious about his or her performance of the duty you gave him/her.
There are instances when the power of attorney takes other functions. The authority usually provided by the legal services specifically for the elderly could be categorized as a durable power of attorney. It is somehow different from the usual and normal power of attorney used. ‘Durable’ simple means the agent is mandated to continue making decisions for the principal especially if the latter becomes incapacitated. However, the law states that the agent should be obliged to act only in the best interest of the principal. Thus, the money and properties involved must only be used for the benefit of the principal.
If you need to establish a durable power of attorney, take note that you are providing your agent the following authority: withdrawing your money from bank accounts and spending it; selling your property; and pursuing legal actions and insurance claims. If you are uncomfortable with the setup, you may decide not to get a durable power of attorney or any form of power of attorney at all. However, when you suddenly become mentally incapacitated, the court could appoint a conservator or guardian for you.
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