What is General Power of Attorney?
A general power of attorney is a legal document that a person who is called the principal creates to authorize someone to act in their behalf. The person who is chosen to be listed as the power of attorney in the legal document is referred to as the agent. Here is some information on a general power of attorney.
What the Document Does
The general power of attorney document is used by one party to give another party the authority to act on their behalf in financial, medical, and legal matters if the person becomes incapacitated and cannot look after these matters themselves. This is an important document to have in an emergency because unless a person puts their wishes in writing, then they will not be honored if they become incapacitated.
How the Agent Can Function
The agent who is named in the general power of attorney document basically in all aspects becomes the principal. They can complete financial transactions, file the person’s tax returns, access their safety deposit box, buy and sell stocks, bonds, and real estate, and handle the person’s 401 k, pension, and retirement accounts.
Why Individuals Need a Power of Attorney
Medical emergencies often occur without warning. One famous legal case where a power of attorney document would have helped is the Terri Schiavo case. Schiavo lacked a power of attorney or a living will and when she ended up with severe brain damage and in a vegetative state; there was a war between her parents and her husband. This was over whether or not she would have wanted to have her feeding tube taken out. A simple power of attorney would have rectified the situation, but Schiavo was young at the time and probably never thought that she would end up in that type of situation.
Things to Consider When Drafting a General Power of Attorney Document
A general power of attorney document is a document that grants another person a lot of power and authority. In many cases, it may be a good idea to have a non-family member be chosen as the agent because in many situations, emotions can cloud a person’s judgment. A neutral third party can be beneficial and act clearly and thoughtfully especially where critical medical decisions are concerned.