A power of attorney is a legal document you can create to name another person to act in your place. Powers of attorney are both helpful and dangerous, depending on the integrity of the person named as your agent. A general power of attorney confers broad powers, including the right to access bank accounts with debit cards.
Financial Power of Attorney
A power of attorney document authorizes your named agent to make either financial or medical decisions for you. The agent you name has a legal duty to act in your best interests. Financial powers of attorney can confer limited authority, such as giving an agent the right to sell your car, or a broader, more general authority. You can make a durable power of attorney to appoint someone to handle your affairs in case you become incapacitated. As long as you are competent, you can terminate or alter the power of attorney.
Read More: Risks of a Financial Power of Attorney
General Power of Attorney
Many states offer power of attorney forms that residents can use to create effective legal documents, but forms are also available from attorneys, some banks and online legal service providers. If you sign a general power of attorney form without including any limitations, you give your agent authority to take any financial action on your behalf that you could take yourself, including obtaining a debit card.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.