If you have been appointed as an Agent under a Power of Attorney, or POA, you probably have a general idea of what being an Agent means; however, you may also have questions and concerns about your role as Agent. For example, how does an Agent use a power of attorney? What are the limits of the authority granted to you under the POA? Before you use your POA authority it is important to know the answers to these and other questions.
A power of attorney is a legal agreement that allows someone (the “Principal”) to grant authority to someone else (the “Agent”) to act on behalf of the Principal’s behalf in legal matters. Whether the POA is general or specific will determine the extent of the power granted to you at the Agent. If the Principal executed a general power of attorney you have been granted sweeping powers to act on the Principal’s behalf in almost all circumstances that are not limited by law. On the other hand, if the Principal executed a specific, or limited, POA you have only been granted the power and authority specifically enumerated in the POA document. Finally, if the POA is a “durable” POA it means that your power will continue unaffected should the principal become incapacitated.
Using your powers as an Agent should be relatively simple. State law requires a third party to honor your POA authority in most situations. Your authority to act on behalf of the Principal should be easily established by producing a copy of the signed power of attorney agreement. Once it has been established that you do, indeed, have power of attorney over the Principal you should be allowed to proceed as though you are the Principal.
Keep in mind that your role as an Agent under a POA is an important position and one that comes with a fiduciary responsibility to the Principal. This means that you must use the utmost care when making decisions using your power of attorney, particularly when those decisions involve the Principal’s assets or impact the Principal directly.
If you have additional questions regarding the Missouri laws relating to power of attorney consult with your Missouri estate planning attorney.