Lifestyle & Skill

What Are the Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a penned authorization to display or act on another’s behalf in private issues, businesses, or other legal affairs. The person allowing the other to work is the principal, contributor, or donor (of the power). The one permitted to act is the agent, attorney, or in some popular law jurisdictions, the attorney-in-fact.

Previously, the word “power” referred to a means signed under seal while a “letter” was a means underhand, explaining that the parties just signed it, but today a power of attorney does not require to be signed under seal. Some jurisdictions need that powers of attorney to be authenticated or witnessed, but others will apply power of attorney as long as the grantor signs it.

lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocateattorney at lawbarristerbarrister-at-lawbar-at-lawcanonist, canon lawyer, civil law notarycounsel, counselor, solicitorlegal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying the law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions.


The word attorney-in-fact is utilized in many jurisdictions instead of the word agent. That word must be differentiated from the term attorney-at-law. In the U.S, an attorney-at-law is a legal practitioner who is also allowed to be an advocate in a significant jurisdiction. An attorney-in-fact might be a layperson and is licensed to act under the powers given by a power of attorney but may not involve in acts that would form the unauthorized practice of law.

In the conditions of the unincorporated reciprocal inter-insurance exchange (URIE), the attorney-in-fact is a stakeholder or trustee who takes custody of the member funds placed upon deposit with him and then utilizes those funds to pay insurance appeals. Once all the claims are paid, the attorney-in-fact brings back the leftover funds to the members.

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act uses the word agent. As an agent, an attorney-in-fact is a trustee for the principal, so the law needs an attorney-in-fact, to be honest with and loyal to the principal in trading with each other.
Care should be taken when choosing an attorney-in-fact, as some attorneys-in-fact have utilized their authority to steal the assets of defenseless people such as the elderly.

Structure and requirements

The person who makes a power of attorney, named as the grantor, can only do so when they have the necessary mental capacity. If the grantor fails to permit a power of attorney (for instance, from Alzheimer’s or a head injury in a car crash), then the power will no longer be adequate. In some powers of attorney, the grantor says that they want the document to stay in effect even after they become incapacitated.

This kind of power is usually considered a durable power of attorney. If someone is already confined, that person can’t create a valid power. However, in some jurisdictions, it might be possible for someone to have the capacity to make a power of attorney even if they cannot make the decisions that they are delegating.

If a person cannot carry out a power of attorney (and does not already have a resistant ability in place), most of the time, the only way for another party to act on their behalf is to have a court urge a conservatorship or a guardianship.

Oral and written

Based on the jurisdiction, a power of attorney can be oral and, whether witnessed, will slow down in court as if it were in writing. For some cases, the law needs a power of attorney to be in writing. Many foundations, like hospitals, banks, and, in the U.S, the Internal Revenue Service, require a power of attorney to be in writing before they honor it. They will typically keep a duplicate original or a copy for their records. Nursing homes usually do the same practice.

Equal dignity rule

An equal dignity rule is an act of law requiring authorization for someone performing specific acts for another person to have been allocated with the same formality as required by the action the representative is going to execute. This means, for instance, that if a principal allows someone to sell the principal’s house or other real properties. The law needs a contract for the sale of real property to be in writing (required under the Statute of Frauds in most U.S. jurisdictions), then the authorization for the other person to sign the sales contract and deed should be in writing too.

Similarly, in common-law jurisdictions other than the U.S., a power of an attorney to perform a deed (i.e., an instrument under seal or performed in the presence of two witnesses) should be executed as a deed.


At a minimum, a power of attorney should be signed and dated by the principal to become a legally official document. Some jurisdictions also need a power of attorney to be witnessed, authenticated or both. Even when not required, having the document inspected and signed (and usually stamped) by a notary public might raise the likelihood of withstanding a legal challenge.

If the attorney-in-fact is being paid to act on behalf of the principal, a contract for payment might be distinguished from the document giving power of attorney. Suppose that a particular contract is in writing as a specific document. In that case, it might be kept confidential between the principal and agent even when a power of attorney is displayed to others to perform the agent’s duties.


A power of attorney might be special (also named limited), general, or temporary. A significant power of attorney is restricted to a certain act or type of act. A general power of attorney allows the agent to make all personal and business determinations temporary power of attorney is one with a restricted time frame. A durable power of attorney may be canceled or changed if needed as long as the principal is still inwardly competent to act.


Under the law, a power of attorney becomes fruitless if its grantor dies or turns “incapacitated,” meaning unable to give such power, due to physical injury or mental illness, for instance, unless the grantor (or principal) states that a power of attorney will continue to be fruitful even if the grantor becomes disabled.

This type of power of attorney is named “power of attorney with durable supplies” in the United States or “enduring power of attorney,” “lasting” or “continuing” power of attorney elsewhere. Finally, under a durable power of attorney, the authority of the attorney-in-fact to act and make decisions on behalf of the grantor goes on until the grantor’s death.

OnlineMag24 Editorial Team

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