Making a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that gives someone the right to take some legal action in your name. For example, you might give someone a power of attorney to sign a deed selling your house if you are going to be out of the country. You could also give someone power of attorney to handle all of your legal affairs in case you were medically disabled.
A person holding a power of attorney to act for someone is often called an attorney in fact. (This has no relationship to an attorney at law.) The person giving someone a power of attorney is called the grantor. While an attorney in fact should only take action that the grantor wishes, he or she has the power to do anything that the power of attorney grants. For example, an attorney in fact can withdraw money from a grantor's account and spend it for personal gain. (Of course, this would be criminal.)
For this reason, a power of attorney should only be given to a trusted person. It should be limited to necessary acts. For example, if you need someone to sign a real estate deed, it is not necessary to give them a general power of attorney allowing them to do anything regarding all of your property. Instead, you would give them a specific power of attorney for the specific act of signing the deed.
There may be times when you have given someone a power of attorney and then later decide to cancel it. This is done with a form called a revocation of power of attorney. You should deliver it to the person with the power of attorney as well as anyone you think has seen or will see the original power of attorney.
Health Care Power of Attorney
When you enter a hospital, you never know if you will be able to make all the judgment calls necessary throughout your treatment. To solve this, you can sign a health care power of attorney, which allows someone else to make decisions for you.