What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which one person (called the “principal”) gives to another person (the “agent,” or sometimes called the “attorney in fact”) authority to act on behalf of the principal.
A power of attorney can be very broad, allowing the agent to perform a variety of tasks, including but not limited to:
-handling bank accounts
-selling real property
-running a business
-applying for public benefits
It can also be very limited and restrict the agent to one or more very specific tasks. For example, selling one specific piece of real property. The agent cannot use the principal’s assets in a way that is against the principal’s wishes.
A well-written power of attorney can be a helpful legal tool to allow someone else to handle a person’s financial matters without the need of more complex arrangements like a trust or a court-appointed guardian or conservator, which removes many or all of the person’s decision making authority. A well-written power of attorney can also help protect against possible financial exploitation and abuse.