Legal Speak 101: What Is A Power Of Attorney?


Posted by heritagelawoffices on May 23, 2016 in Blog, Wills & Estate

A power of attorney is a document that gives another party the legal authority to act on your behalf. Depending on the power you give them, your attorney will be in charge of your legal and financial affairs. A power of attorney is generally named when planning for possible incapacity or extended absences. Generally speaking, a power of attorney handles affairs while the donor is still alive, but unable to make these decisions for him or herself. Once the donor passes on, the executor named in their will assumes responsibility. Still have more questions? Read on for the full who, what, when, where, and why of a power of attorney.

What Can My Attorney Do?

Your power of attorney is there to act in your best interests. They are required to keep accurate records of any and all transactions initiated on your behalf. Unless you limit your attorney’s authority, they can do pretty much everything you can do when it comes to your finances and property. Remember: Your attorney doesn’t OWN any of your money or property. He or she only has the authority to manage it on your behalf.

What CAN’T My Attorney Do?

There are some things your attorney cannot do, such as:

  • Create a will for you or make changes to your existing will
  • Make changes to beneficiaries on a life insurance plan
  • Hand over power of attorney to someone else

Types Of Powers Of Attorney

There are several different types of power of attorney:

Enduring Power of Attorney: This type remains binding if the donor (the person who needs someone else to act for him or her) becomes incapacitated, but it will be annulled when the donor dies.
Ordinary Power of Attorney: This is only valid as long as the donor is capable of acting for him or herself. If the donor dies or becomes incapacitated, the power of attorney is annulled.
General Power of Attorney: The attorney has the capacity to do anything the donor could do him or herself.
Specific Power of Attorney: The attorney may only act on matters regarding a particular purpose (ex. Selling a particular piece of property)

What Should I Look For In An Attorney?

When considering who to appoint as your attorney, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your attorney must be an adult capable of making their own decisions. This person should be someone you trust, as we they are going to be dealing with all of your affairs. For this reason, many people choose to appoint a close friend or family member as their attorney. The person you choose as your attorney does not need to be a lawyer. You’ll also want to make sure the person you choose has good financial management skills, as well as the time to handle your affairs. Your attorney must be available when required, be able to objectively make decisions, and be able to keep detailed financial records.

Looking For Legal Help? We Can Help!

Appointing a power of attorney ensures that your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust. If you are looking for power of attorney help, call the team at Heritage Law. Our experts are ready to answer your questions!