Powers of Attorney
WHAT IS POWERS OF ATTORNEY?
A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person appoints another to do certain acts for him or her in that person’s absence. The person who creates the power of attorney is called the “principal,” and the person who is given the power of attorney is called the “agent.” The powers to be given by the principal to the agent may vary depending on the purpose of the power of attorney.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POWERS OF ATTORNEY?
Yes. Some powers of attorney are called “general” powers of attorney, as they cover a wide variety of acts; while other powers of attorney are called “limited” powers of attorney, as the agent is limited to performing specific acts. Another type of power of attorney is called a durable power of attorney. This type of power of attorney remains in full force and effect even when a person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated. However, all powers of attorney lapse when the principal dies.
SHOULD A PERSON BUY A POWER OF ATTORNEY AT AN OFFICE SUPPLY STORE?
The simple answer is no! Most forms that are sold at office supply stores are not always written for the specific issues that a client needs to address. A lawyer who specializes in a particular area of law, such as elder law or special needs planning, will draft a Power of Attorney that anticipates problems that typically arise in those areas of law. The cost of hiring a lawyer to draft a power of attorney will seem like a small price to pay when a form purchased in a stationery store or from an on-line service does not work when needed.
WHY DOES A PERSON NEED A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
A Durable Power of Attorney is an important part of estate planning and planning for incapacity. When a person can no longer make personal or business decisions due to mental or physical incapacity, a Durable Power of Attorney can be used, among other things, to execute contracts, buy or sell real estate, or admit someone to a nursing home. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, a costly guardianship may be required.
ARE POWERS OF ATTORNEY STATE SPECIFIC?
The answer is yes and no. Some language in every Power of Attorney will work in most states, but some language will not. Each state has its own laws governing Powers of Attorney, and the requirements for certain provisions may be different. If a person is moving to Florida, it is always a good idea to consult an attorney who regularly drafts Powers of Attorney to see if the one from the client’s state will be adequate in Florida.
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