Many people know what a power of attorney is and why one might be needed. Or at least they think they do. Because of this, some may think that downloading a simple fill in the blank form found on the Internet will suffice. As with many “do-it-yourself” legal forms, the dangers of using one without first seeking legal advice can be many.
A property power of attorney, or POA, is a very serious and powerful legal document. Giving someone a POA may authorize the individual to handle your legal affairs. Most POAs that are found on the Internet are boilerplate documents that give the agent (person to whom you are giving authority) broad control over your affairs. This means the agent may be authorized to buy, sell, trade, convey or gift away your assets. He or she may be able to sign checks, withdraw money, transfer money or make important legal decisions on your behalf. Worse yet, some may not understand that a property POA will NOT include the power to make medical decisions on your behalf.
While the basic purpose of a POA may be easy enough to understand, many may not realize that there are different types of POAs used for different purposes. Furthermore, the language used in a POA will determine how much power or authority you grant the agent and which will determine how long the power will be granted. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney about what your goals are and how to best accomplish them through a power of attorney.