A power of attorney document allows someone else to take on legal responsibilities and actions that the creator of the document would otherwise do. For example, if you need your CPA to talk to the IRS on your behalf, you would complete a power of attorney.
Likewise, if you needed someone else to attend a real estate closing on your behalf and sign documents, you would use a power of attorney. The power of attorney names someone known as an attorney-in-fact or an agent. This person is the one legally approved to do the acts outlined in the power of attorney document. It is very important to choose the right person as an attorney-in-fact, and to draft the power of attorney document as clearly as possible so that third parties and the attorney-in-fact are aware of what this agent can and cannot do. In the event that you have recently been appointed as an attorney-in-fact on someone else’s POA and you are not sure whether or not you are authorized to carry out a particular act, consult with the lawyer who helped to prepare the document.
There are a couple of things that an attorney-in-fact is not able to do even if the power of attorney document says otherwise. For example, the attorney-in-fact cannot give statements regarding witnessing a car accident, vote in election for the principal, revoke a will or create a will. Furthermore, personal services cannot be performed by the attorney-in-fact under a contract, such as writing a book. This is why it is extremely important to consult with an experienced and dedicated estate planning lawyer before creating a power of attorney document so that you are clear on what this enables you to do, as well as not do.
Contact our Pasadena, California estate planning law office for more support with your next steps in the estate planning process.