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Understanding a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a binding, legal document in which one person grants rights and responsibilities to another person, during a time of illness or absence. The person initiating the document is referred to as the "principal" and the party carrying out the obligations is the "agent".

An agent should be someone that is trusted completely and will carry out the wishes and needs of the principal. Unfortunately, the agent can misuse their authority to take money, property, personal possessions from the principal or complete other legal actions that can have damaging effects. In addition, most states will not permit a health care provider or medical center worker to be listed as an agent. For this ruling to hold credence, sickness or hospitalization should be the main reason for the power of attorney. A second agent can be named, should the state in which you reside decline your first choice if an agent.

The desires of the principal should be clearly defined and understood between both parties. If the drafted document is for a health related issue, provisions can be written down and incorporated. For factors not written, the decision could then be made by the agent depending on the severity or by the state. If the document is for financial only authority, a schedule and payment sheet can be calculated so that there is no misunderstanding.

The determination should be made as to what type of power of attorney is appropriate for you and the reason behind the document.There are four basics type to consider: limited, health care, durable and springing.

A limited document means that the agent can perform a limited amount of tasks regarding your health care decisions or financial responsibilities. Limited also means that an agent can ONLY do tasks that the principal can do as well. For example – if you could write a check or transfer funds, so could the agent. However, if you, as the principal, were to become incapacitated to the point you are unable to make decisions or perform tasks, your agent's abilities become incapacitated as well.

A health care document enables the agent to perform tasks and make decisions pertaining to the principal's health care if you, as the principal, are incapable of expressing your decision. There should be a clear understanding between the parties as to the wishes of the principal.

A durable document eliminates the "only if the principal can perform" clause of the limited document. The agent can perform tasks separate from the principal and the abilities carry over even if the principal become unable to communicate or make the necessary decisions or complete obligations.

A springing document is a power of attorney that comes into effect only after the principal is declared as disabled. This determination is usually confirmed by two physicians and difficulties arise when the degree of disability cannot be agreed upon.

All of these documents can be withdrawn at any time, as long as the principal is determined to be of sound mind. Written notification to the agent relieving them of their obligation is required and follow-up with all financial institutions, doctors and involved family members should be immediate as well.

Source by Ketan Kanaujia

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