Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document that creates an “attorney in fact” in the person named in the document.  The named attorney in fact is one or more persons whom you appoint to “step into your shoes” and act on your behalf.

Legally, anything your attorney in fact does that is within the scope of the Durable Power of Attorney is binding on you and your successors.  That means if you give your attorney in fact the power to sell your property and your attorney in fact sells your house while you are on vacation, the sale will be binding on you.

You may have a cause of action against your attorney in fact, but that will not “unsell” your house. With few exceptions, the attorney in fact can do anything you would be able to do with regard to your assets and financial and business matters.

Because your attorney in fact has such broad-reaching power and authority, one of the most important considerations is who you select as your attorney in fact. The person should be someone in whom you have complete confidence. They must be honest and have the highest degree of integrity.

When you select your attorney in fact, be sure to select someone that has good judgment, has the skills necessary to carry out the powers you are granting, and is willing to dedicate the time necessary to serve as your attorney in fact.It is wise to designate one or more persons who have the authority to act on your behalf in case you become disabled and unable to take care of your own financial and legal affairs.  Although this document gives broad authority to those whom you designate to act for you, your attorney in fact does have both a legal and ethical responsibility to act for your benefit and as they would anticipate you would choose to act if you were able to do so.

A general durable power of attorney would give authority to someone to handle your affairs, including payment of bills, if you were unable to do so.  If you become disabled and there is no one designated with the authority to handle your affairs, loved ones are left with the decision of whether to go through a court process to be named guardian and conservator for you, often with great expense and time delays that can cause additional problems.