California residents who may be trying to figure out how they can find help managing their assets might consider the value of a power of attorney. From helping to pay bills and signing documents to handling larger financial affairs, appointing someone as an attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney can be of great assistance. A power of attorney is a legal document in which an individual designates another individual to represent him or her as the attorney-in-fact or agent. The individual executing or signing the document is the principal.
Many people use an attorney-in-fact to help them with all of their financial and legal issues. For example, people who take extended trips find that having someone who can handle all their finances in their absence is a necessity. The agent is able to do things like purchasing or selling a car or a piece of property in the name of the principal because, under the power of attorney, the agent has permission to sign contracts and other important documents.
Under a power of attorney, an agent may also serve the principal by taking care of responsibilities such as filing tax returns, hiring caregivers and assisting with bank transactions. However, the agent is not allowed to modify the principal's will or to take any assets for his or her benefit. In the event the agent unlawfully takes from the assets of a principal who is over 65 years of age, the agent can be accused of elder abuse.
It may be in the best interest of those who are considering appointing someone under a power of attorney to consult with an estate planning lawyer first. As there are several types of powers of attorney, the lawyer may be able to explain which type is most suitable for the client's needs.
Source: The Superior Court of California, "Power of Attorney", October 06, 2014