What is a Power of Attorney, Anyway?

What is a Power of Attorney, Anyway? I draft many Powers of Attorney for my clients. It’s a common legal procedure, but often people have many questions about the terms of the Powers of Attorney and exactly what they mean. Here’s a complete explanation.

A Power of Attorney (POA) allows a person to take administrative action for you (signing tax returns or legal documents) and manage non-trust assets (retirement plan assets, government benefits, etc.) for you if you are incapacitated. A properly drafted Power of Attorney may avoid the need for a conservatorship if you are incapacitated. A conservator is a person, official, or institution designated to take over and protect the interests of an incompetent person.

The person creating the POA is known as the Principal. The person who is given the responsibility to act for the other is called the Agent.


A durable power of attorney means that the Agent’s power will continue to be effective, even if the Principal loses mental capacity.

The POA may give the power immediately, or may state that the power will only arise if the Principal is incapacitated. If the power is given immediately, it is up to the Agent to determine when to exercise the power. If it is only given on incapacity, the Agent must get letters from two doctors stating the Principal no longer has the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs.

If you need a POA or have questions about preparing an estate plan in southern California, Call us at HAVENS MALCZYNSKI GRIGOLLA, LLP for a free consultation. (626) 385-6303. mail to:

Share this Article

Get Help Now

Follow Us On