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Definition of Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a legal document (but not a court form) which gives one person the power to act for another person. Power of attorney can give limited or broad legal authority to someone to act for the benefit of another person, who is called the principal. Power of attorney is often used when a principal becomes sick, incapacitated or mentally incompetent and is unable to manage their finances or legal affairs.

The power of attorney document is created by the "principal." The principal gives the power to someone else to act on their behalf who is called the attorney-in-fact, although they do not have to be a lawyer, only a competent adult who is 18 years or older. The power of attorney can be designated for a specific time or it can be cancelled by the principal.

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