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Things You Can’t Do As a Power of Attorney

Things You Can’t Do As a Power of Attorney

In estate planning, you can grant another person legal authority to act on your behalf through a document called a Power of Attorney (POA). The person granted decision-making authority in the POA is called an attorney-in-fact or agent. It is an important power that covers many areas, but it is important to understand the things you can’t do as a power of attorney.

Being named as a power of attorney agent often entails stressful decisions, speaking on another person’s behalf, and separating your wants from their needs. It’s important to know the things that you can and the things that you can’t do as someone’s power of attorney before accepting the responsibility.

What Does Being Named in a Power of Attorney Document Mean?

Being an agent for a power of attorney means that you’ve been given the power to make legal decisions on behalf of others, usually some kind of family member. This includes decisions pertaining to finances, healthcare, property, etc. This is usually a volunteer position that is discussed well in advance.

There are several reasons why someone would implement a POA, but most of the time, it’s because they have some kind of health issue that will prevent them from making sound choices. For instance, if a parent was diagnosed with a serious condition, such as dementia, and was unable to competently make health decisions, someone like their spouse or child could be given power of attorney.

It’s important to note that assigning or becoming an agent in a power of attorney doesn’t always mean that the decision-making power is immediately granted. Often, there are certain conditions that would trigger the POA to become active. This could be incapacitation, mental illness, or even death. A trusted power of attorney lawyer can help create the desired conditions of your arrangement.

Things You Can Do as a Power of Attorney Agent

The legal powers granted may be indefinite as a result of long-term conditions such as incapacitation or severe illness or more short-term for things like being unavailable due to travel.

In theory, the authority granted to the agent in a power of attorney can be as limitless or limited as the person seeking a power of attorney wants them to be; the deciding factor is how much control they want to relinquish. Usually, a POA is set up with a lawyer’s help and can involve up to total control with things like medical care, financial decisions, and property decisions.

A power of attorney can also be limited to making a single decision. Multiple POAs can also be set up, giving different people different authority based on their knowledge and skills.

Things You Can’t Do As a Power of Attorney Agent

While the things that you can do as an agent are theoretically limitless, there are some things that you absolutely cannot do without the explicit consent or appointment of the person you are representing. When someone makes you the agent in their power of attorney, you cannot:

  • Write a will for them, nor can you edit their current will
  • Take money directly from their bank accounts
  • Make decisions after the person you are representing dies
  • Give away your role as agent in the power of attorney

While the first three are mainly to prevent fraud and other abuses of power, the final point of not being able to give away your power of attorney is one of the most important. It acts as a warning to seriously consider the choice before accepting the role of a power of attorney agent. B

If you don’t feel as though you can adequately make decisions on behalf of another, especially for medical care, it’s important to discuss it with the person who wishes to name you in their power of attorney immediately. Additionally, if you feel as though the person you named through your power of attorney is either unable to perform their duty or is abusing their power, contact a power of attorney lawyer immediately,


Q: What Three Decisions Can Not Be Made by a Legal Power of Attorney?

A: The three primary decisions that can’t be made by a legal power of attorney agent are writing or editing a will, making decisions after the person they are representing passes, or acting outside of the creator’s interests. As an attorney-in-fact, it is your duty to fulfill another’s needs and make decisions that strictly meet the interests of the person who granted you the authority.

Q: What Are the Risks of Being a Power of Attorney?

A: Outside of the emotional toll that may occur, the risks of being a power of attorney agent are fairly minimal, assuming that all of your duties are being fulfilled. If you fail to perform what was asked of you in the power of attorney document, it is possible for you to be sued for damages that resulted from any poor decisions you made.

Q: What Is One Important Thing for a Person With Power of Attorney to Know?

A: One important thing to know is to seek dedicated support. The decisions that you may be asked to make can be emotionally challenging, making it difficult to make the correct choice. Whether it’s a therapist, a family member, a friend, or even a lawyer, it’s important to seek counsel from others so that the choices you may need to make are not as emotionally heavy.

Q: What Is One Situation in Which it Would be Important to Have a Power of Attorney?

A: One situation where a person would benefit from implementing a power of attorney would be a familial history of mind-altering medical conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Because these issues can cause mental confusion, having someone you trust named in a power of attorney can ensure your interests are protected.

Contact Robert G. Petrovich, Attorney at Law

If you or a loved one are looking to draft and implement a power of attorney, contact Robert G. Petrovich, Attorney at Law. With 43 years of experience, our skilled team can offer you the support you need during this nuanced and emotionally delicate process.

Call Today For More Information

Call 626-792-5955 (*must dial 1 plus 626 area code) or contact us online
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Based in San Marino (near Pasadena), Mr. Petrovich handles estate planning, probate, business law, real estate, and other legal matters throughout the San Gabriel Valley.