A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document giving one person the power to act for another person. It refers to a document in which one person gives power to another to sell or act on his behalf in respect of the matter specified in the document. It is the legal right to act for someone else in their financial or business matters, or the document that gives you this right. The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make legal decisions about the principal’s property, finances, or medical care. It can be helpful to older people and others who want to choose a trusted person to act when they cannot.
The power of attorney is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary legal documents for financial transactions. It is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to manage your property, financial, or medical affairs if you become unable to do so. A financial POA can also be used for short-term purposes: for example, if a service member is deployed overseas, he or she may create a POA so someone can pay bills, sell property, or handle other business in his or her absence. The appointment can be effective immediately or can become effective only if you are unable to make decisions on your own.
- General Power of Attorney: In this situation, the agent can perform almost any action as the principal, such as opening financial accounts and managing personal finances. It is an effective tool if you will be out of the country and need someone to handle certain matters, or when you are physically or mentally incapable of managing your affairs.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This arrangement designates another person to act on the principal’s behalf and includes a durable clause that maintains the power of attorney after the principal becomes incapacitated. This is simply a general, special, or health care POA that has a durability provision to keep the current power of attorney in effect
- Special or Limited Power of Attorney. In this instance, the agent has specific powers limited to a certain area. Selling property (personal and real), managing real estate, collecting debts, and handling business transactions are some of the common examples.
- Springing Durable Power of Attorney. In some states, a “springing” power of attorney is available and becomes effective when a specified event occurs such as when the principal becomes incapacitated.