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Power of Attorney

  • By: Kerstin Gerst
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

In its broadest sense, a power of attorney is a written document that appoints one or more persons to act on another's behalf when that person is unavailable or unable to do so. The person who gives power of attorney is called the principal, and the person granted this power is called an attorney of fact or an agent. A principal must be mentally competent to legally sign the power of attorney agreement. This means that the principal must fully understand the powers that he or she is granting to the agent as well as the implications of transferring such power.

Although the title of this document includes the word attorney, the agent does not have to be a lawyer. It can be a spouse, an ...

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