A Power of Attorney form allows you to appoint another person to act on your behalf should you ever require someone to make short- or long-term decisions for you. On a Power of Attorney form, the person granting authority to another is the Principal. The person who is granted authority is called the Attorney-in-fact or Agent.
The principal will also be able to choose how they would like the Power of Attorney to go into effect - for example, if they would like it to start at a specific date and last through incapacity, if they would it only like to begin if they are incapacitated, or if they would like to have it start at a specific date but end in case they are incapacitated.
In addition, if you ever become incapacitated, without this document, even if you have a spouse, the court may need to step in and appoint a guardian or conservator for you. The process of appointing a guardian is costly and requires the guardian to formally report your situation to the court each year. CNN Money estimates that the process of obtaining a court appointed guardian exceeds $1,000. If this is the situation you find yourself in now, please read our guide about getting guardianship over your elderly parent here.
A Durable Power of Attorney also becomes effective immediately upon signing, however it allows the Agent to continue acting on behalf of the Principal even when he or she becomes incapacitated. This type ends automatically when you die, but you can also rescind it, as long you are not incapacitated.
power of attorney sample
letter of attorney