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The responsibility of power of attorney

Many have heard the term, but some may not be aware of just what it means and the responsibility that comes with it. Power of attorney is given to someone so that he or she the right to make legal and or health care decisions for someone else. Although Florida, like other states, may have its own laws for creating one, the guidelines for power of attorney are basically the same throughout the country. 

A person who grants a power of attorney is called a principal. It is up to the principal to decide how much responsibility and power is given to the attorney-in-fact. That person could be allowed to only deal with one area of the principal's life, such as medical care, or may be allowed to handle almost all of their affairs, such as finances and other personal issues. Giving power over just one area is called a specific power of attorney and giving someone the responsibility of handling all of the affairs is called a general one.

The attorney-in-fact, or person to whom the power of attorney is granted, may be given authority over various decisions. He or she could make financial decisions, including giving gifts of money. A power of attorney can also be designated to make decisions about health care, which could include the right to give instructions about starting or stopping any type of medication, treatment or medical care in specified circumstances. An attorney-in-fact can also be authorized to choose a guardian for the principal.

Arrangements may be made to pay for the serviced of a power of attorney, though that is not necessary. Due to the fact that the power of attorney acts in a fiduciary capacity, he or she must maintain detailed records of any financial transactions made on behalf of the principal. Anyone in Florida who is considering granting power of attorney may wish to consult with an estate planning lawyer. The attorney can explain all of the responsibilities of the appointment to both the attorney-in-fact and the principal so that both parties are aware of all aspects of the decision.

Source: caregiverslibrary.org, "What Is Power Of Attorney?", July 6, 2017

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