Power of Attorney
- An Authorization To Act on the Behalf of Another -
This page was last updated on Monday, December 03, 2012
A power of attorney in civil law is a written authorization by someone (the principal or grantor) that authorizes another person (the attorney-in-fact) to act for the principal to do or accomplish certain specified things. In other words, the attorney-in-fact is a fiduciary for the principal - a person who holds a position of trust for the benefit of the principal. Although a power of attorney can be oral, most institutions require a power of attorney to be in writing before they will recognize it. The reason for this is that they can keep true copy of the authorization with the original signature or signatures for their records.
Before a power of attorney can become a legal document, it must be signed by the principal and by the agent (the attorney-in-fact). Some states and other jurisdictions may require more than this. For an example, a notary public may be required to inspect the official identification cards of the signatories and then witness the signing of the document by the principal and agent before notarizing the authorization. The most important part is that nearly every power of attorney must have an expiration clause that specifies an event, date, or some other condition that causes it to expire. One obvious reason is that the agent (the attorney-in-fact) or the principal has died and the death of the principal voids the power of attorney.
However, there is an exception called an enduring power of attorney. An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is the legal authorization to act on the behalf of someone in a legal or business matter. Unlike a power of attorney, an enduring power of attorney does not end when the donor becomes incapable of managing their own affairs. So it may be written as a legal document that takes affect when it is witnessed and signed. There is another kind of enduring power of attorney that has no effect until the occurrence of a specified event or the inability to decide about matters affecting their estate.
An enduring power of attorney can be changed or revoked anytime while the grantor is still living and mentally capable to carry out their affairs. This should be done by revoking the previous authorization in the new superceding document.
Edward Steven Nunes