Most people have heard the term “power of attorney”, yet many do not completely understand what a power of attorney is and what the limitations of a power of attorney are.
A power of attorney is a legal agreement whereby you, as the grantor, give the legal power to make decisions on your behalf to another person. The person to whom you give power of attorney is often referred to as your agent. A power of attorney can be general or specific. Any type of power of attorney can also be made durable.
A general power of attorney gives your agent broad power to act on your behalf. As the holder of a general power of attorney, your agent can sign your name to legal documents, make legal decisions and often access your finances. Giving a general power of attorney to someone should only be done after careful thought and consideration.
A specific power of attorney gives your agent the authority to act on your behalf to accomplish a specific task or for a specific reason. For example, you could give someone power of attorney for the sole purpose of completing the sale of a car while you are out of town.
A general power of attorney has no definite termination date. A specific power of attorney terminates when indicated on the document or when the task has been completed. Either type of power of attorney terminates upon the death or incapacity of the grantor. Termination upon the incapacity of the grantor in a traditional power of attorney gave rise to the durable power of attorney. Because a traditional power of attorney terminates right when many people want it to operate, upon their incapacity, the durable power of attorney was created. A durable power of attorney survives the incapacity of the grantor.
Although power of attorney forms are easy to find, consultation with an attorney is recommended given the broad powers that can be conferred by a power of attorney and the serious nature of the circumstances
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