Power of Attorney
Technically, power of attorney refers to the legal document that is given to an individual (henceforth known as the agent, or attorney-in-fact), and is representative of the power to act for someone else (called the principal). The agent is then designated the legal authority (usually with specific limits) to make legal decisions regarding the principal’s property and finance during probate proceedings.
The principal typically designates a power of attorney in anticipation of their illness or disability, choosing an agent to sign legal documents in their stead. Because this is a huge responsibility, the principal usually chooses an agent from within the family, or a well-trusted friend.
Power of attorney is effective immediately, or if specified, is only activated after a stipulated event, such as incapacitation. The principal will need to outline this in detail, such as whether a medical opinion should be required, or what events may grant the power of attorney springing power.
The principal should also outline the scope of responsibility or power given to the attorney-in-fact. Generally, however, this power may include buying and selling of assets, handling retirement accounts, paying household bills, managing an estate in Houston, completing income tax returns, or collecting government benefits. The agent can also be given the power to smooth over legalities concerning the will, ultimately avoiding long probate proceedings in Houston. Sometimes the power of attorney can even include aspects of medical care in case the principal is no longer mentally or physically capable of making medical-related decisions; this is commonly referred to as the medical power of attorney.
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