How to Give Someone a Power of Attorney

Written by S. Arteta and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

A Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes another person, called an agent or attorney-in-fact, to act on behalf of the principal, in the event that the latter cannot perform the tasks as stated in the document himself.

There are two kinds of power of attorney, one is general, the other is special. A general power of attorney gives broad authority to the agent. The agent may therefore make medical decisions, legal choices, or financial or business decisions for the principal. On the other hand, a special power of attorney pertains to a limited authority to be exercised by the agent. In the latter, the agent can only perform the specific tasks as stated in the Power of Attorney.

A special kind of power of attorney is used in real estate dealings. This is called as Power of Attorney "Durable". This pertains to an authority which subsists even if the principal becomes incapacitated or when he passed on. As compared to a general power of attorney and a special power of attorney, a "durable" power of attorney is not extinguished by the death or incapacity of the principal.

A power of attorney may be given to a person through a printed form. Each state has its own preferred form. These forms may also be printed or bought from on-line legal sites.

Fill out the form. Include your name, as principal, and the name of the attorney-in-fact or agent. Each form already lays down the tasks to be accomplished by the agent. You only have to check the corresponding boxes of the tasks. You may then select the powers that you will give to your agent and sign the form before a notary public. The form must be filed before the county clerk. This may be required in some jurisdictions which invalidates a power of attorney form which was not filed before the county clerk.

You must also bear in mind that a power of attorney may be revoked at any time. You may also transform a general power of attorney or a special power of attorney into a "durable" power of attorney. As already explained, it is "durable" since said authority endures even after the death of the principal or even after the principal was declared by competent court to be incapacitated. You can also execute a "springing" power of attorney. This term pertains to an authority which takes effect only after the principal becomes incapacitated.

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