A power of attorney is a written document that gives someone the legal authority to act for you as your agent or on your behalf. To be legal, it must be signed and notarized.
You may choose to give someone a limited, or ordinary, power of attorney. That authority is revoked if you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
In contrast, if you give an attorney, family member, or friend a durable power of attorney, he or she will be able to continue to make decisions for you if you're unable to make them. Not all states allow a durable power of attorney, however.
A springing power of attorney takes effect only at the point that you are unable to act for yourself.
It's a good idea have an attorney draft or review a power of attorney to be sure the document you sign will give the person you're designating the necessary authority to act for you but not more authority than you wish to assign.
You always have the right to revoke the document as long as you are able to act on your own behalf.
A written instrument that authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney. The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature. The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire. If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies. Some institutions require that you use the financial institution's power of attorney forms. (The financial institution may refer to this as a Durable Power of Attorney: The principal grants specific rights to the agent.)
- Browse Related Terms: Alteration, Draft, Escrow agent, Financial instrument, Forgery, Negotiable, Power of attorney, Return Item, Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
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