The laws governing a power of attorney in South Carolina are set forth in statutes in the South Carolina Code Section 62-5-501. These laws are specific for each type of power of attorney.
A power of attorney is a legal document (known as a power of appointment) signed by the principal appointing another person known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, authority to perform tasks on the principal's behalf. A power of attorney is designed to protect the interest of the principal, therefore the agent or attorney-in-fact should be a trusted individual since access to finances is a common responsibility under a power of attorney.
There are several types of powers of attorney recognized in the state of South Carolina, with the most common being a durable general power of attorney, a limited or specific power of attorney and a health-care power of attorney. A power of attorney in South Carolina is valid if signed by a person over the age of 18 who is of sound mind (mentally competent) in the presence of two witnesses and a Notary Public.
Durable General Power of Attorney
A durable general power gives the agent or attorney-in-fact the authority to do anything the principal can do, with the exception of executing a last will and testament or living will. In South Carolina, under a durable general power of attorney, mental or physical disability does not extinguish the appointment and the agent has the power to sell, mortgage or rent property, cash, deposit or withdraw funds from financial institutions and perform any act which the principal would perform.
Specific or Limited Power of Attorney
In South Carolina, a specific or limited power of attorney is used for a specific act or for a limited period of time. These appointments are used in real estate transactions where the principal will be unavailable for signing or if the principal will be out of the country for an extended period of time during which certain business must be performed on his behalf. Once the time period for the specific act to be completed has expired, such as purchasing a property, the power of attorney is extinguished and no longer effective.
Health-care Power of Attorney
A health-care power of attorney is signed by the principal and appoints an agent or attorney-in-fact to make health-care decisions for the principal in case they are unable to voice their wishes due to mental or physical inability. Please note, that the power of attorney must be executed while the principal is mentally capable of executing a legal document, however its effectiveness continues if the principal becomes incapacitated. For example, Mary properly executed a health-care power of attorney in 2005 appointing her husband, Robert as agent. In 2009 Mary is in a serious car accident which leaves her incapable of speaking or writing. Robert may act as her agent under the power of attorney.