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Power of Attorney
By Michael E. Petrie
Attorney at Law
ower of Attorney. A simple everyday term used with frequency by attorneys, doctors, business persons and lay people in general. The fact is that many people are confused by the term "Power of Attorney." Some common questions are: Must the holder of a Power of Attorney be an actual attorney, licensed to practice law? How long does a Power of Attorney last? What powers does a Power of Attorney give to the holder?
Attorney fees for preparing and executing a Durable Power of Attorney are generally less than those for setting up a Revocable Trust or establishing a Conservatorship. Like a revocable trust, the Durable Power of Attorney does not require court supervision and thereby ensures the principal's privacy and minimizes delays in financial transactions. A Durable Power of Attorney may be designated to be effective immediately on its execution or only upon some triggering event, such as when the principal is determined to have lost capacity.
A Durable Power of Attorney is also quite flexible. The powers granted to the agent may be as broad or as narrow as the principal desires. The power can be over the financial matters of the principal or over health care or apply only some specific transaction. As a matter of fact, the powers could be made so broad so as to authorize the agent to do virtually anything the principal can do, with few exceptions. However, some third parties, title companies for example, may be less willing to transact business with an agent and may act with suspicion when presented with a broadly written Durable Power of Attorney instrument that does not specifically enumerate the agent's powers.
As you can see, there is nothing mystical, magical or even particularly complex about a Power of Attorney. It is merely a vehicle for one person to acquire authority to handle the affairs of another. If you are interested in granting a Power of Attorney to someone whom you wish to designate as your agent, you should contact your attorney who will be able to answer specific questions and draft the necessary legal documents.
Michael E. Petrie is licensed to practice law in California, New York, Texas, District of Columbia and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He is a principal in the Law Offices of Petrie & Associates (www.petrielaw.com) and can be reached at the firm's California offices or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article © 2000, Michael E. Petrie
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