A power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent to transact business on your behalf. The agent is called your attorney-in-fact. You, the person appointing the agent, are called the principal. You are free to give the attorney-in-fact whatever powers you choose. This authority can be very broad it can be limited to a single act or transaction.
In most powers of attorney, the authority is granted to the attorney-in-fact is effective immediately. That is, as soon as the document is signed, the attorney-in-fact could exercise the powers given in the document. Usually the principal intends that the powers not be exercised by the attorney-in-fact until the principal (that’s you) needs help. But legally, the authority is granted and effective immediately.
Many clients are uncomfortable with this. When they are hale and healthy, they don’t like the idea of a spouse or child visiting the bank and cleaning out their accounts using the power of attorney.
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