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The Little-Known Details of a Power of Attorney

For some reason, several clients have called me lately and asked questions about their Power of Attorney document. Most people are generally familiar with this document and have a pretty good idea of what it is and how it is used, but since not all Powers of Attorney are created equal, let me give you a little primer.

First, the title given to the person creating the Power of Attorney document, and granting powers upon someone else, is called the Principal. And while most people say that they are the Power of Attorney for someone else, the correct title for the person acting on behalf of the Principal is called the Attorney in Fact. Thus, when the Attorney in Fact (for example, Billy Bob) signs a document on behalf of the Principal (Susie Sue), the correct legal signature should look something like this: “Susie Sue, by Billy Bob, her Attorney in Fact.”

Second, Power of Attorney document have a wide range of names. For example, one might be called a Financial Power of Attorney, and another might be called a Property Power of Attorney. Generally, the name refers to the types of powers the Principal is granting to the Attorney in Fact.

Third, there can be a distinction between whether a Power of Attorney is General or Special. If a Power of Attorney is General, this typically means that it grants a wide range of powers upon the Attorney in Fact. Conversely, if a Power of Attorney is Special, or also sometimes called Limited, it means that there are only a limited amount of powers being granted, maybe for a special purpose or situation. Most commonly you will see a Special Power of Attorney for Real Estate, meaning that the Attorney in Fact only has the powers necessary to complete a specific real estate transaction for the Principal.

Fourth, not all Power of Attorney documents come into effect at the same time. You will commonly hear about a Durable Power of Attorney or a Springing Power of Attorney. If the document is Durable, that means that it is in effect at all times, whether the Principal is in perfect health or is incapacitated. However, a Springing document means that it springs into action as the result of a certain situation, most commonly when the Principal becomes incapacitated. The decision whether to have a Durable or Springing Power of Attorney is up to the Principal and the comfort level that he/she has with the designated Attorney(s) in Fact.

The bottom line is that while it seems to be a pretty straightforward document, there are several intricacies and significant decisions to be made based on the Principal’s circumstances. It is a powerful document and should not be treated lightly. Please come in to see us to learn more about this document and how we can craft one that meets your specific needs. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 888.222.1328.

MH_iphone_splashWhat the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.


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