Troubleshooting Legal Problems

Do I need a power of attorney, and how do I create one?

A power of attorney is a document that permits a person to act upon another person’s behalf, usually in health, finances and business decisions. There are different kinds of powers of attorney, ranging from a limited power of attorney to a very comprehensive one, depending on how the document’s creator wants it to be.

The person who creates a power of attorney is called the principal. The agent is the person permitted to act on the principal’s behalf. Pennsylvania assigns specific responsibilities to agents, including:

  • Being loyal to the principal and for their benefit
  • Keeping their assets separate from the principal’s assets
  • Conducting themselves with diligence and care in making decisions for the principal
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Cooperating to preserve the principal’s estate planning wishes

Who needs a power of attorney?

  • Many people choose to have a power of attorney because it allows them to select someone they trust to handle their matters if they become incapacitated or cannot tend to an issue for another reason.
  • People enlisted in the military want someone in the United States to be able to act on their behalf.
  • People with health issues want a trusted individual to have the ability to act on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated.

How do I create a power of attorney?

In Pennsylvania, the principal must sign their power of attorney before two witnesses and a notary. The agent must also sign a document acknowledging that they understand the responsibilities of being the principal’s agent and agree to carry out those duties. All powers of attorney automatically expire upon revocation by the principal or at the time of the principal’s death.

Powers of attorney are documents that allow a person to give another person control over their personal affairs, including their finances, health or business matters and can be helpful for many reasons.