Okay, okay, you got me. I apologize for my 80s T.V. reference, but I thought it was rather fitting, as sometimes attorneys can (and do) seem like superheroes. That said, the term Power of Attorney doesn’t necessarily mean that the person you have chosen to trust with your affairs is going to dress up in spandex and spend their nights fighting crime in your name. Although you do have to admit it’d be pretty awesome if they did!
What is a Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney isn’t actually referring to a person at all! Rather, it is a written document that says you have given permission to another adult to tell other people what to do with all of your things since you are unable to do it yourself. This includes things like real property (i.e. land) or even bank accounts, as well as handling all the rest of your financial or legal matters.
It also doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be dead. Generally, it is used when someone is incapacitated by some physical or mental reason and can’t speak for themselves, or do all the things that need to be done. So, in review, the power of attorney allows your spouse, a friend, or a family member (also known as an agent), to act on behalf of you (also known as the principal).
Types of Power of Attorneys
So, okay, power of attorney! That’s fantastic! But you might be confused. You might be asking yourself, “Hey, is there more than one kind of power?” And the answer to that question is indeed a resounding YES! There are in fact two types of power of attorney, and we’ll look at them now.
Limited Power of Attorney
Limited: With limited power of attorney, that means that a person has the authority to do one thing and one thing only (like selling your house, for example). If you can’t do it yourself, you’d definitely want to have someone you can trust help you. If that’s the case, then the “Limited” option is probably the best choice for you.
General Power of Attorney
General: According to Justin Scott, a New Jersey attorney, “The general power of attorney allows the representative assigned by the principal the ability and authority to act in any way necessary on anything and everything, should the principal become mentally incompetent or otherwise disabled.” It’s important to note that these general powers of attorney usually have a provision that will allow the representative (or agent) to act even in the event that the principal becomes disabled. However, it automatically ends when the principal person dies.
So now you know a little bit more about power of attorney—who it is and what it does. Hopefully now, if you weren’t before, you will be able to feel at least a little more confident when it comes to matters like these. I know I am, and I hope that you are too!