Family Law Blog

What is Meant by Power of Attorney?

What is Meant by Power of Attorney?

You don’t need to be a legal professional to be aware of the term “Power of Attorney.” In fact, it’s a term that gets tossed around frequently on the big screen. While most people have heard the phrase, few understand exactly what it means.

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another individual the power to take care of financial and legal matters on your behalf. Typically, this can involve the individual handling your finances, paying bills, or even selling real estate and other property on your behalf.

Types of Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney come in different shapes and sizes. Some are meant for short term reasons, while others proceed until revocation or death. Here are the most common types of powers of attorney.

  • General: A General Power of Attorney is effective immediately and ends on incapability, revocation or death. This is a less commonly used power of attorney.
  • Limited: Functions in much the same way as above but for specific purpose(s) and/or limited time periods.
  • Enduring: Enduring Power of Attorney is commonly used in family law. It’s active immediately and continues into incapability until revocation or death.
  • Springing: Another commonly used power of attorney, springing begins with a certain trigger, such as incapacitation, and ends when the owner regains capability or death.

When are Powers of Attorney Used?

Through our work in family law, we encounter several scenarios in which an individual might choose to bestow power of attorney upon an individual. For example, you may turn to a power of attorney agreement if illness or injury meant you weren’t able to handle your own financial affairs.

Many people also use it as a form of advance planning. It ensures a family member (or other individual of their choosing) is legally able to handle their financial affairs or other important decisions should they become mentally incapable of handling those duties in future. This type of agreement is covered above as an Enduring Power of Attorney as it’s meant to function as a long-term agreement.

How Much Power to Grant Your Attorney

A useful aspect of powers of attorney agreements is they can be customized to grant as much, or as little, power to an individual as you like. To give a specific example, you may grant power of attorney over an individual bank account, or to handle a certain specific financial transaction on your behalf.

At all times, your attorney is legally required to act in good faith and with your best interests in mind. They are obliged to keep detailed records of the transactions and other duties they carry out on your behalf and must keep your affairs separate from their own.

Find Out More

Westside Family Law can assist with any legal questions you may have surrounding Power of Attorney or estate law. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.