Palm Beach County residents might be concerned about problems that could arise if they became incompetent or incapacitated. They want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that another person is authorized to handle things for them. The document to make this happen is a power of attorney.

Powers of attorney are legal documents that appoint another person as the agent with authority to act on behalf of the maker, or principal, of the power of attorney. A principal may give an agent as much or as little authority to act as he or she wishes simply by specifying it in writing in the document.

An agent may perform any legal or financial act that the principal has authorized him or her to perform. This might include:

  • Buying and selling real or personal property
  • Executing legal and financial documents
  • Handling financial transactions including banking transactions
  • Creating a trust
  • Making gifts to others
  • Making health care decisions on behalf of the principal

As a general rule, powers of attorney do not allow an agent to act in the event a principal becomes incapacitated. A principal may overcome this limitation by having specific wording included in the document that allows it to remain effective even in the event of the incapacity of the principal.

 

The death of the principal terminates a power of attorney. It may also be revoked by the principal. Revocation by the principal must be in writing.

 

This overview of powers of attorney does not provide complete coverage of the topic. As a result, it is not offered as a substitute for the legal advice and guidance of an attorney familiar with trusts and estate planning.