A power of attorney is simply a document giving one or more persons the power to act on your behalf. You, as the person who signs the power of attorney, are called the principal. The power of attorney gives legal authority to another person, called an agent or attorney-in-fact, to make property, financial and other legal decisions on your behalf. The agent does not have to be an attorney at law; your agent can be any competent adult. Your agent generally owes you a duty to act solely for your benefit, and avoid self-dealing.
There are two main advantages to having a power of attorney.
First, a power of attorney can be very convenient. For example, imagine you are moving to Chicago, but do not have the time to apartment hunt. You could ask a friend who lives there to look for you, and give power of attorney for the sole purpose of signing a lease. Spouses often grant power of attorney to each other to sign each other’s checks or property deeds so that only one needs to be present to sign important documents.
Second, medical planning. While not pleasant to think about, it is possible that you will become incapacitated due to injury or illness. If you do, a power of attorney might be very important.
If you do not have a power of attorney or have more questions about them, contact our office.
-Robert L. Scott, Attorney at Law