What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document giving one person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the power to act for another person (the principal). The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make legal decisions about the principal's property, finances or medical care. 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.

A power of attorney can end for a number of reasons, such as when the principal dies, the principal revokes it, a court invalidates it, the principal divorces their spouse, who happens to be the agent, or the agent can no longer carry out the outlined responsibilities.

Conventional POAs lapse when the creator becomes incapacitated, but a “durable POA” remains in force to enable the agent to manage the creator’s affairs, and a “springing POA” comes into effect only if and when the creator of the POA becomes incapacitated. A medical or healthcare POA enables an agent to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person.

  • A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document giving one person, the agent or attorney-in-fact the power to act for another person, the principal.

  • The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make decisions about the principal's property, finances or medical care.

  • The power of attorney is often used when a principal becomes ill or disabled, or when they can't be present to sign necessary legal documents for financial transactions.

 

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