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Power of Attorney Facts

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Nature

By granting someone power of attorney, you, the principal, are making them your agent to perform legal functions on your behalf just as if you were performing them yourself. Examples could include signing a contract, selling your house or signing a medical release form. Your agent would need only to produce a valid power of attorney form in order to perform whatever functions were authorized by the wording in the form.

Legal Requirements

A valid power of attorney form should clearly identify both the principal and the agent by both full name and address. It is preferable to use identification numbers associated with a government-issued ID (such as social security numbers). The document should be signed by both the principal and the agent in the presence of a notary public, and should be visibly stamped with the notarial seal. In some states, two witnesses are required, who must both sign the form indicating that they witnessed the document being signed by both principal and agent. The powers granted to the agent should be identified clearly enough to allow third parties to know exactly what the agent is and is not allowed to do. Finally, the duration of the power of attorney should be clearly indicated.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney grants the agent the authority to perform a specific legal act (or series of acts) for a particular purpose. If you are living in California, for example, your car is in New York, and you want to authorize your brother to sell it and transfer the title to the buyer's name, you should use a limited power of attorney.

General Power of Attorney

This is the most powerful, and potentially most dangerous, form of power of attorney. A general power of attorney grants the agent the authority to perform any legal act that the principal would be able to perform. It is often used by people who expect to become totally incapacitated in the near future and need someone to manage their affairs for them.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is simply a power of attorney that expires upon the death of the principal. Nevertheless, as with any power of attorney, the principal can revoke it at any time with written notice, as long as she is mentally competent to do so. Note that this category is not exclusive---it is possible to execute a limited or general power of attorney, for example, that is also durable.

Springing Power of Attorney

Most of the time, a power of attorney becomes effective the moment it is legally signed by both parties. A springing power of attorney, however, becomes effective at some point in the future, if at all. For example, it could be set to begin one year after it is signed. Usually, however, a springing power of attorney will become effective upon the occurrence of some specific event, such as "upon my total incapacitation" (if the principal never becomes totally incapacitated, the power of attorney never goes into effect).
 
* Information above was gathered from David Carnes "eHow Contributing Writer on www.ehow.com".

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