What Role Does the Principal Play in Establishing A Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney document enables someone else to make decisions on your behalf when he or she is installed as the agent. If you sign a power of attorney, you are called the principal.

In many instances, an appropriately drafted durable power of attorney can avoid having to go through additional court procedures such as a conservatorship or guardianship and will instead empower the financial agents that you select while still of sound mind to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. This is your primary role in establishing a power of attorney, but you must also think about whether or not you want this power of attorney to be only for specific actions or to occur after a specific event, like you becoming incapacitated.

3D illustration of “LEGAL ASSET” title on legal document

The agent of your power of attorney is also referred to as the attorney in fact. Without an appropriately executed power of attorney, if you were to become mentally disabled and unable to make your own decisions, your loved ones would have to go through the additional court process and payment of obtaining a probate court-supervised conservatorship to have an individual handle your financial and property affairs.

While no one wants to think about the possibility of not being able to make their own decisions, it could be a big mistake to avoid planning for this altogether because your loved ones would be the ones who end up paying the price. Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer to discuss to find out how a power of attorney can help you.     

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