What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone the authority to make decisions for another person. The person who gives the POA is called the principal, and the person who receives the POA is called the agent.

Depending on the principal's wants, the agent can be given very broad or limited authority. For example, the agent might be authorized to make all decisions about the principal's medical care or just to make financial decisions on behalf of the principal.

POAs are commonly used in estate planning or in cases where a person becomes unable to make decisions for themselves, for example, due to illness or old age. If you become incapacitated and don't have a power of attorney, your loved ones may have to go to court to get the authority to decide on your behalf.

The principal can revoke a power of attorney at any time, as long as they are still competent to make such a decision. Once the principal dies or is declared incompetent, the POA is no longer valid.

Published: Oct 12, 2022

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

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