What Are the Duties of Power of Attorney?


Quick Answer

Power of attorney is a broad term that refers to any agreement between a principal and an "attorney-in-fact" who can act on the principal's behalf in health or legal matters, states Cornell's Legal Information Institute. The duties of power of attorney vary based on the type of agreement.

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Full Answer

When a principal institutes a power of attorney agreement with an "attorney-in-fact" (who does not have to be a legal attorney), that person can establish the particular circumstances and duties of power of attorney as required, according to Cornell University Law School. For matters of health, which are considered special powers of attorney, durable power of attorney is often established to anticipate situations in which the principal may be mentally incapacitated for a period of time, as described by WebMD. In such situations, the attorney-in-fact can make medical decisions for the principal, such as what kind of treatment to provide for the principal. For legal matters, general or limited power of attorney can be used to allow the attorney-in-fact to take legal or financial actions including managing bank accounts, buying and selling stocks and so on. Power of attorney forms vary from state to state within the United States, but most allow flexibility for the principals to decide which duties they want their attorneys-in-fact to possess.

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