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POWER OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney document is a written document by which you give or grant to an “Attorney in Fact” (or Agent) of your choice the legal authority to manage your financial, personal, or other affairs in the event that you become incapacitated, or are otherwise unable to handle those affairs yourself. In a durable power of attorney document, your agent — the person whom you have chosen to manage your affairs when and if you cannot — is known officially as your “Attorney in Fact,” even though that person does not have to be, and probably will not be, a lawyer. A licensed, practicing lawyer is known as an “Attorney at Law.” Any other person whom you authorize to do business for you is known as your “Attorney in Fact.”
The power or authority granted may be as narrow or as broad as you, the Principal, think may be necessary or appropriate. Your power of attorney document can, for example, authorize your agent to sign one document or make withdrawals from one bank account. On the other hand, it may authorize your Agent to handle all of your affairs, with the same authority or in the same manner as you could.
The power of attorney can be given to any person you choose: a family member, a trusted friend, an advisor, an accountant, an attorney, or trustee. In short, you can name anyone, but you should choose a person whom you trust, one who will conduct your financial, personal, and legal affairs in accordance with your wishes.
In order to ensure that your affairs will be managed by someone you trust, in the event that you should become incapacitated, you should sign such a document while you are in good health. It can never be too soon. We usually recommend that a durable power of attorney be created at the same time as your will.
Your agent is a “fiduciary,” which means that a very high standard of conduct is applied to any actions taken by that person under the authority granted by a Power of Attorney. An agent is supposed to manage your affairs and property with the utmost honesty, and you can sue an agent who violates that trust. Prevention is better than the cure, so choose your agent carefully and wisely.
According to rules set up by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this website is considered “advertising.” It is designed to give our clients and friends general information and it is not intended to provide opinions regarding any specific situation. The information is general in nature and does not constitute any attorney/client relationship.