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Power Of Attorney
Someone who represents another person in court matters, is acting as their attorney, and only a licensed attorney is allowed to represent others in court matters. Even if someone is named as being the "attorney in fact", that alone does not make them an attorney. A person does not have to be an attorney, to be appointed to get limited rights to make another person's choices, or to manage for their care.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer. A typical power of attorney agreement creates an agency relationship between the principal (the person or entity authorizing, granting, and agreeing to have some of their rights represented), and their agent (the power of attorney).
The principal grants some of their rights (power) to the agent. The agent gets those rights until some event happens, for example, the principal becomes incapacitated, dies, or the rights of the Power Of Attorney (POA) are revoked. There are different types of power of attorneys, and one person can fulfill more than one POA role. Some examples of POAs are:
1) A general power of attorney has both certain legal, and nearly all financial decisions.
2) A specific power of attorney is restricted to one transaction, or for a limited time.
3) A durable power of attorney grants the ability to survive the incapacitation of the principal, which is useful in estate planning.
4) A financial power of attorney is powerful, because it allows the agent to make all financial decisions for an incapacitated principal. Some financial institutions require a durable power of attorney in addition to, or instead of, a financial power of attorney.
5) A health or medical care power of attorney allows the agent to make health care decisions for the principal, after they become incapacitated.
Even though one does not need to be an attorney to be a power of attorney, they could be. An attorney is usually involved, if only to draw up the paperwork. Powers of attorney documents are not usually filed at a court unless they are subpoenaed, or involve certain real estate transactions.
As a judgment broker I am occasionally asked "Can I be the power of attorney for a judgment owner, and then recover their judgment?" Although I am not a lawyer, I know anyone who is not a lawyer should not represent anybody else in any court-related matters.
Each state has its own laws and peculiarities, so be sure to contact a local attorney that knows your specific power of attorney requirements. If you download a free power of attorney document over the web, run it by an attorney, because you want something that works in the real world, not just theoretically. Many estate planning attorneys will prepare or check power of attorney documents for a reasonable fee.
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