Understanding the Implications of Using a Power of Attorney

As a Tennessee probate attorney, I receive a number of calls regarding Power of Attorney and the ability or inability to perform certain tasks on behalf of someone else. Many people want to know what can or cannot be done with this legal document. So often, many do not understand what the limitations are on the person who has been allocated these powers or authority. Obviously, being given such authority in a Power of Attorney is a great responsibility. If you have questions regarding a Power of Attorney, contact Nashville estate lawyers at The Higgins Firm.

What exactly is a Power of Attorney? A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives certain powers to an agent, also called the “attorney-in-fact,” to act on behalf of the person who is allocating the authority, also called the “principal.” In other words, this legal document shows who and what powers that the attorney-in-fact has been given by the principal. The document will explicitly state what powers are being granted and in what circumstances that authority is given.

While the Power of Attorney does not have to be approved by a judge or any other court proceeding, an attorney can draft this document and tailor the powers being granted according to the principal’s wishes. Some individuals may elect to grant only certain powers to the attorney-in-fact. For instance, an individual may utilize a Power of Attorney to allocate authority strictly for an automobile sale. Others may choose to grant a wide range of powers to the attorney-in-fact. Often, elderly people may execute a Power of Attorney granting authority to a family member to handle a wide range of financial affairs because they are no longer able to do so themselves easily. You should be aware of what powers that your Power of Attorney grants as well as the powers that it does not grant.

In addition, an individual may choose in what circumstances the powers are given to the attorney-in-fact. Some people choose to have the powers granted only in the event that the principal is incapacitated or unable to make decisions for himself. In this case, the Power of Attorney can be very helpful because the attorney-in-fact is then able to handle certain affairs as the principal is unable to do so for him or herself. Others may choose to have the Power of Attorney come into effect immediately without specifying the requirement of certain circumstances. You should be aware of when your Power of Attorney would come into effect.

It is important to understand the implications of using a Power of Attorney. By granting these powers to another person, you should completely trust the individual who you are naming as attorney-in-fact. This individual will have the ability to act as you in those circumstances set forth in the document. It is important to understand that the principal still maintains the ability to act on his or her own behalf. The principal can also revoke the document at any time that he or she so chooses. By revoking the document, the principal is able to take away all of the authority that had been granted by the Power of Attorney. Also, it is important to note that the Power of Attorney becomes void and no longer has effect upon the death of the principal.

If you have questions about a Power of Attorney in Tennessee, contact the Nashville estate lawyers at The Higgins Firm.