Two Important Questions About Your Financial Power of Attorney

As you may know, a financial power of attorney is very important because it allows a person you appoint — called your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” — to act in your place for financial purposes when and if you ever become incapacitated or if you cannot act on your own behalf. It can permit the agent to pay your bills, make investment decisions, take planning steps, and take care of your family when you cannot do so yourself.

However, once you settle upon your agents and the wording of your power of attorney, the next two decisions to make are: How many originals should you have and where should they be kept?

Most powers of attorney include language saying that a copy should be treated like an original, but this is not always honored by third parties. In addition, an original may be inaccessible for some periods of time. For example, in transactions involving real estate, an original power of attorney must be recorded with the deed.

While the power of attorney will be returned, that might not be for several months.

One option is to execute two (2) original powers of attorney — your attorney can keep one and you can take the other. You also have the option to keep the originals yourself or give them to your agents. It is also common for people to keep their originals with their attorney.

Telling your agents where the original documents are located, in case they are needed, is imperative.