What is a power of attorney and when and how do you use it?

Sometimes in life someone may be asked to fill out a power of attorney form. At another time, someone may decide they need a formal way of allowing someone to act on their behalf. Some may have heard of Powers of Attorney, others may just know that the creature exists but have only half a clue about what it does. So, let’s define it, see when it can be used, see what types are available, and what are the advantages and disadvantages.

In its simplest form, a power of attorney is a formal, legal way of transferring your authority to make certain decisions and act on your behalf (on your behalf) to another person. The types of conduct permitted are usually defined to some extent and allow the document holder to make day-to-day decisions on your behalf, represent you in specific legal situations, or conduct business, legal or financial situations on your behalf. A full release may list very specific uses, or it may be broad, depending on your wishes.

The use of power of attorney usually takes some form of pre-emption. For example, you know you won’t be able to handle certain things, so you delegate the task of acting on your behalf to someone else. For example, military members are often not home when important incidents occur, so they may run to the Attorney General’s (JAG) office and fill out a power of attorney form so their spouse can handle certain incidents in their name. An executive or business owner may not be able to physically attend important business events, but can authorize someone else to act on his or her behalf. Others may simply plan ahead for times when they may not be able to make certain decisions for themselves. After completing what is often a relatively simple form, they can be assured that someone they trust will have control and be able to legally act on their behalf.

There are basically two types of Power of Attorney – Enduring Power of Attorney and Limited Power of Attorney.

An enduring power of attorney allows another party to act in your name and on your behalf in almost any form or type of business or transaction. This option may be chosen by people who want to separate themselves at least semi-permanently from certain activities, such as buying and selling stocks or managing property. People with disabilities who are unable to go out and conduct their own affairs can appoint a trusted person who has authority to act on their behalf. Some may prepare ahead of time for the day when they may no longer be able to accurately assess and process the things that require them to think, decide, and act.

A limited power of attorney is a simpler affair. It is used to allow your representative to act on your behalf, with certain limitations. Basically there are two possible limitations:

* By Mission: In this form, the authority granted is clearly stated to be for a certain purpose…for example, to buy a car or sell a certain property.

* By time: In this case, a specific date limit is set. You can use this service if you are going abroad for a week or two but want to make sure that certain things are taken care of while you are away.

As you can see, it can be really convenient to have someone to act on your behalf when you may be absent or incapacitated. This “practical surrogate” can help you manage your affairs while you are busy with other situations or events. All they have to do is present the power of attorney you have prepared and sign or act as if you were yourself. Permission scopes (by task, time, or both) are easily documented. In limited form, granted permissions automatically expire after a certain time or task is completed, but you, as the original grantor, can revoke them at any time.

This is a simple task, but legal counsel may be advised in some cases, is also a common task, and you will be able to find well-designed power of attorney forms at office supply stores and online.

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