In certain situations, a person (known as the principal) can give someone the ability to act on their behalf in legal situations. This is known as power of attorney. With power of attorney, this secondary individual becomes an attorney-in-fact, also known as an agent.
With power of attorney status, the actions of this person become the legally binding decisions of the principal in relevant situations.
The power and control the attorney-in-fact has depends what rights are granted to them by the principal.
The power of attorney is often portrayed as ultimate trump card in movies and shows. In real life, however, the attorney-in-fact is often limited. In cases limited power of attorney, a person may be granted decision making power regarding finances, health care decisions, or guardianship, but not other matters.
The power of attorney may also be granted on a temporary basis. When the time period is up, the attorney-in-fact will no longer be able to act on behalf of the principal.
Certain situations can arise that make the power of attorney status invalid. If the principal should become mentally unstable, incapacitated, or they die, the position may be voided. This can be prevented by granting durable power of attorney (DPA).
In cases where DPA has been given, the attorney-in-fact maintains control, regardless of the principal’s physical state. This is common in situations where a person has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a life threatening condition.
If you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to give power of attorney, and one has not already been set, a legal process could ensue. Similar to dying without a will, the courts will decide who is most qualified to act on your behalf.
This person is known as a conservator.
While it will typically be a close family member, the situation can be complex should you end up in a life-threatening position. The best solution is to have a power of attorney, should anything happen.
To make sure you, your family, and your loved ones are properly taken care of should an incident arise, it’s important to establish power of attorney. An attorney that specialized in family law can make sure everything is done correctly, with no loopholes or uncertainties.