LEGAL CORNER: What is power of attorney?

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 1:08 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: What is a power of attorney? What are the advantages of having one?

ANSWER: Power of attorney is a legal contract that gives another person or persons (agent(s)) the ability to handle the affairs of another person (principal).

Having a valid power of attorney is critical. It allows a person to make financial and/or medical decisions for another person if the other person is unable or incapacitated

One agent may have power of attorney for financial matters and another for medical.

The power of the agent may be limited to a particular activity, such as the sale of a home or property. The power may give temporary or permanent authority to act on the principal’s behalf. The power may take effect immediately, or only upon the occurrence of a future event (such as if the principal becomes incapacitated).

Generally, the principal is not giving up any rights by signing a power of attorney and the power can be revoked by the principal at any time.

If the agent fails to act on behalf of the principal, and if another agent has been appointed, then that substitute agent usually takes over. If no substitute agent is appointed, then the principal needs to appoint a new agent.

Power of attorney expires upon the death of the principal.