A power of attorney is a written document in which an individual (the “principal”) designates another person (the principal’s “agent”) with the power to exercise powers or perform acts on the principal’s behalf. This could include the right to conduct banking and financial transactions, pay bills, contract for services and buy, mortgage and sell property.
Power of attorney documents can take several forms. For example, principals can appoint a family member to handle all of their financial affairs if they become unable to do so, or only to sell a particular piece of property on their behalf if they cannot handle the transaction.
Although the agent has a duty to act in the principal’s best interests, it is critical that principals only appoint agents who they trust completely. Anyone 18 years of age and older can create a power of attorney, but the principal must have capacity at the time that he/she reads and signs the document.
Power of attorney documents are an important part of an overall estate planning strategy. Ask us about how a power of attorney document might benefit you or a loved one.