A power of attorney is a legal power given to a person (called an agent) by the maker (the person giving the powers to the agent). A power of attorney can be broad in nature, specific or related only to health care.
The effect of a power of attorney is that the agent has the legal authority to act on behalf of the maker. Depending on the type of power of attorney used, the agent may be able to act in all legal transactions, only a specific transaction or only make health care decisions.
An agent does not generally receive payment for acting on behalf of the maker. As a rule, a person only gives someone they trust implicitly, such as a family member or spouse, power of attorney. Occasionally an attorney will be given power of attorney and will naturally be compensated for her time when acting as a power of attorney.