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Is handing over power of attorney right for me?

Granting another person your power of attorney is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. The benefits of doing so, however, may save you future hardship or help you through a difficult time now.

To give someone your “power of attorney” means to give another individual the right to legally act on their behalf. People often do this when they expect someone else to be able to make more informed decisions for them, or when they are simply unable (due to medical issues or time constraints) to speak on an issue themselves.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney generally comes in two different forms, and there are different reasons you may want to use each of them. If you are ill, for example, you may want to grant your power of attorney to a trusted friend or sibling in the event you fall into a coma. Granting them broad authority to handle your affairs is an example of general power of attorney.

If you were to suddenly inherit a large sum of money in the form of stocks and bonds, you may want to entrust management of your windfall to a financial advisor who specializes in the management of these types of assets. If you gave them your power of attorney to do so, you would grant them special power of attorney – or limited authority over a specific subject.

How do I grant power of attorney?

Granting power of attorney varies from state to state, but in Pennsylvania it requires filling out legal documents with the person you want to grant your power of attorney to. In certain circumstances you may also need two witnesses to be present.

Power of attorney documents are technical and have very specific requirements on how they must be prepared. Something as simple as not writing a particular line in all capitals may void the document and create serious legal problems in the future. It is a good idea to have an present to ensure everything is properly formatted, signed, dated and witnessed, if need be.

Being able to grant another person your power of attorney is a practical tool to be used when you are ready to entrust another with your affairs. Make use of these resources. You never know when you’ll need someone to carry out actions like upholding your will or applying their expert knowledge to your assets.

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