To grant powers of attorney to someone is to allow that person to enter into legal agreements and fulfill legal obligations on your behalf. The word “attorney” in this context means “representative”.
Most often, powers of attorney are used in conjunction with estate planning. When a person is drafting a will and working with a lawyer, that person will often designate the attorney (or possibly someone else) as his or her legal representative, thus giving that representative “powers of attorney”. However, powers of attorney are not used only in the context of estate planning, and specifics within the documents created during the process can greatly affect the actual powers imbued.
Powers for estate planning purposes are typically referred to as “durable”; this means that, should you become incapacitated in some manner (no longer able to commit to legal agreements), the person to whom you have given powers of attorney will keep these powers. This method is useful for estate planning, as the main purpose of giving these powers is for the designated person to be allowed to carry out your legal wishes for you.
Even if you already have a will, a power of attorney is still necessary. A will cannot become valid until after your death, but a power of attorney will become valid in other circumstances; for example, if you are in a coma or become otherwise unable to speak or act for yourself.
No matter who you choose to be your attorney for estate purposes, it is highly recommended that the job of drafting legally binding powers of attorney be given to a qualified, experienced legal representative.
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