Power Of Attorney – What Is It?

Note: The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Visit DUI Attorneys Los Angeles for more law themed articles.

7471When two parties want to enter into an agreement whereby one party (the Principal) appoints the second party (the Agent) to perform certain tasks in a legal capacity in his lieu, the legal document that empowers this is called a Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney document also requires certification by a notary public, which is generally a lawyer.  Once the power of attorney document has been notarised, the agent is henceforth authorized to act on the principal’s behalf in any legal matters that may arise concerning the principal.

The authorised agent in a Power of Attorney arrangement may also be called an Attorney-In-Fact.

When Would You Use A Power Of Attorney?

A power of attorney arrangement is useful in a number of situations, the most common being:

  • When the Principal is away from his or her place of residence for a period of time and there are legal matters that need to be seen to during his or her absence.
  • When the Principal is unable, generally through illness or age, to conduct their own legal affairs.

Another area where we see power of attorney agreements being used frequently is in real estate transactions where the real estate agent also acts as the agent on behalf of the buyer, who is the principal.  This enables the estate agent, as agent under the power of attorney arrangement, to pay for and sign all legal documents involved in the transaction (purchase application form, contract to sell, deed of restriction and so on).

Who Can Execute A Power Of Attorney?

Individuals, partnerships or corporations can draw up a power of attorney document.  However, both parties to a power of attorney agreement must have legal capacity, which simply means that they are required to be 18 years of age or older and of sound mental capacity.  This is why many older people sign power of attorney agreements with other family members whilst they are still legally capable of doing so.

Agent’s Powers In A Power Of Attorney Agreement

In a power of attorney agreement, the principal authorises the agent to act within the scope of the legal agreement.  The principal is also responsible for what acts the agent carries out on their behalf and the agent can reasonably expect to be remunerated for services rendered as well as reimbursement for some or all of his or her expenses incurred whilst acting on the principal’s behalf.

Cancelling A Power Of Attorney Agreement

Under most circumstances a power of attorney agreement can be revoked or cancelled at any time by the principal.  All the principal is required to do is put together a document revoking the power of attorney agreement and have the cancellation certified by a notary ie a lawyer or similar person.  Once certified by the notary, the power of attorney agreement is duly cancelled effective from that date.

A power of attorney agreement is also automatically cancelled upon the death of the principal.

Importance Of The Notary In A Power Of Attorney Agreement

The notary is a very important player in the power of attorney.  The power of attorney only becomes a legal document once the notary has witnessed and certified it.  The notary is also the party responsible for providing copies of the document to any third parties such as government departments and agencies that may require it.