Power of attorney

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Power of attorney is a written document signed by a person giving another person the power to conduct the signer’s business, including signing papers, checks, title documents, or contracts; handling bank accounts; and administering other activities in the name of the person granting the power. The person receiving the power of attorney is called the agent or attorney in fact for the person giving the power and usually signs documents as “John Doe, attorney in fact for John Smith.” There are two types of power of attorney. The first is general power of attorney. This covers all activities. The second is special power of attorney, which grants powers limited to specific matters, such as selling a particular piece of real estate, handling some bank accounts, or executing (EX-ih-cue-ting)a limited partnership agreement. A power of attorney may expire on a date stated in the document or upon written cancellation. Usually the signer acknowledges before a notary public that he or she has executed (EX-ih-cue-ted) the power, so that it’s recordable if necessary, as in a real estate transaction. One special power of attorney is the durable power of attorney, which is documents in which you authorize another person to make financial, legal, or health decisions on your behalf. A durable power differs from a general power of attorney because it remains effective even if the principal is mentally incompetent. The main disadvantage of durable power of attorney is that it’s subject to abuse because there’s no ongoing court supervision of the attorney-in-fact.

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