POWER OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows someone, known as the principal, to identify and authorize legal, medical, and financial matters on their behalf should they be unable to do so themselves.
Most commonly, the power of attorney comes into play when someone becomes incapacitated due to a mental or physical disability. A person may be suffering from dementia or in a coma following an accident, making it impossible for them to take care of important financial matters or make medical decisions for themselves. In Pennsylvania, if someone becomes unable to manage their affairs and they do not have a power of attorney in place, a court may appoint a guardian to handle those affairs for them – and it may not be the person they would have chosen themselves, so a power of attorney allows them to place their faith in someone they trust. Contact our team of estate planning attorneys to get your power of attorney started today.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT POWER OF ATTORNEY?
Trust is a key factor when choosing an agent for your power of attorney. Whether the agent selected is a friend, relative, organization, or attorney, you need someone who will look out for your best interests, respect your wishes, and won't abuse the powers granted to him or her.
It is important for an agent to keep accurate records of all transactions done on your behalf and to provide you with periodic updates to keep you informed. If you are unable to review updates yourself, direct your agent to give an account to a third party.
As for legal liability, an agent is held responsible only for intentional misconduct, not for unknowingly doing something wrong. This protection is included in power of attorney documents to encourage people to accept agent responsibilities.