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A power of attorney is a legal document signed by an individual, the “principal,” which grants authority to another individual, the “agent,” to act on behalf of the principal. In the absence of a power of attorney, a person would need to petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship in order to have the authority to act on behalf of the principal.
A power of attorney can authorise the agent to make decisions to manage and deal with the principal‘s property, assets, bank accounts etc. For example, an agent may be granted authority to sell the principal‘s home or car. A power of attorney can also be used to authorise the agent to manage the principal‘s day–to–day activities, such as medical and health care decisions.
The principal must be capable of understanding the nature and content of a power of attorney. The agent cannot be a minor or a person who is legally incapable of doing anything without the intervention of a guardian.
The power of attorney must be specific to the agent and the intended activities that the agent is authorised to undertake. For example, a power of attorney which is intended to authorise the agent to manage the principal‘s day–to–day activities.
A power of attorney may be rejected if the agent is not qualified, if the agent doesn‘t have the capacity to act as an agent, or if the power of attorney is not specific to the agent and the intended activities that the agent is authorised to undertake.
The power of attorney usually should include the following information: