What Is A Power Of Attorney (POA)?

A power of attorney, or letter of attorney, is a document that authorizes another person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact—usually a legally competent relative or close friend over 18 years old—to handle any combination of financial, legal and health care decisions. A power of attorney is also referred to as a POA. Generally, one chooses a POA as a provision if he or she becomes incapacitated. You, the principal, may want (but do not need) an elder law attorney to draw up the document so that it specifies exactly which responsibilities you grant your agent. Establishing a durable power of attorney does not strip you of the power to make decisions; it merely assigns another person to share the responsibility.