A power of attorney is a legal document delegating authority from one person to another (an “agent”). This is a common practice in elder law and estate cases, and can be found in all facets of law practice. In the document, the maker of the power of attorney (the “principal”) grants the right to act on the maker’s behalf as that person’s agent. What authority is granted depends on the specific language of the power of attorney. A person giving a power of attorney may make it very broad or may limit it to specific acts. If you have questions about a power or attorney or need help creating yours, contact the family and elder law specialists at The Wheeler Firm.
The value of the document is that it authorizes another person to act for you when you are indisposed or incapacitated due to illness. In more extreme circumstances, a power of attorney can help avoid the need for a guardianship proceeding if you need another person to manage your affairs during a period of incapacitation.
Some individuals have concerns about giving up their rights to their agent through the power of attorney. However, although you are designating a person to act on your behalf, you are not giving up the right to act on your own. You retain all rights and responsibilities, even after signing the document.