What Does Power of Attorney Mean?

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A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person, the attorney-in-fact, certain legal rights in the name of someone else, the principal, according to the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid. The attorney-in-fact, who has been given this power by the principal, may legally act on his behalf.

The power of attorney document outlines the specific powers the attorney-in-fact holds, explains the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid. These powers can be very limited, but in most instances, the attorney-in-fact has the legal power to do almost anything for the principal from signing a deed to making medical decisions. The one exception is when dealing with banks, brokerage firms and similar businesses as they can impose their own standards for these documents.

An attorney-in-fact only has the power to make these decisions when the principal allows her to have it. If the principal doesn't give the attorney-in-fact permission to act on his behalf, the attorney-in-fact has no power, states the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid. For instance, if the principal has given his attorney-in-fact permission to sign a lease in his absence, the attorney-in-fact cannot legally conduct other business, such as take out a loan on behalf of the principal.