What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Giving Someone Your Power of Attorney?

By Dennis Masino

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to name someone you trust to make financial, business and legal decisions on your behalf. It provides a convenient means of having your affairs looked after when you are away or simply unable to do so on your own. The potential for abuse may outweigh the convenience of having an agent with a power of attorney.


A power of attorney is a legal document by which you, as principal, designate another person to act as your agent to make decisions and enter into transactions on your behalf. The authority you give to your agent can be as broad or as limited as you want to make it. A durable power of attorney is one that your agent may use even if you become incompetent.


You may grant your agent the authority to handle your business, banking, real estate, insurance, investment, pension and gift transactions. A power of attorney may even be used for litigation purposes. You can limit or expand the amount of authority your agent has in the power of attorney.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now


A power of attorney is an easy way to have another person handle legal or financial matters for you when you are away or otherwise unable to handle them for yourself. A durable power of attorney is a protection against costly court proceedings in the event you become incompetent. In that situation, your agent can handle your affairs without the need for a guardian or conservator being appointed by a court.


A power of attorney ends at your death. Therefore, it is not a substitute for a last will and testament or a trust that designates a representative to handle your affairs upon your death. A power of attorney can be abused by your agent because there is no oversight of his activities by anyone other than you. If you become incompetent or incapacitated, your agent may have no one overseeing his actions. The best way to protect yourself is to make certain that the person you select as your agent is someone you trust.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
Risks of a Financial Power of Attorney


Related articles

Power of Attorney & Mental Illness

One way you can help a relative or friend living with mental illness is to become his agent through the creation of a mental health power of attorney. A mental health POA is a legal document that makes you a substitute decision maker in situations where your loved one is unable to make treatment and self-care decisions due to a recurrence of mental illness. The mental health POA contains language reflecting your loved one's treatment preferences.

What Can Happen if You Don't Have a Power of Attorney?

If you suddenly became unable to handle your own finances or make your own health care choices, a person you appointed in a power of attorney -- your agent -- could make decisions for you and take care of your financial affairs. Without a power of attorney, however, your family may have to go to court to obtain permission to manage these areas of your life when you are no longer able to.

What Is the Difference Between Power of Attorney & Guardianship?

A power of attorney is a step toward planning your future, should you become incapacitated to the point where you cannot tend to your own affairs. A guardianship generally comes about because your are already incapacitated and you didn’t prepare for it. The former is voluntary on your part; the latter may happen against your will.

Power of Attorney

Related articles

What Is Financial Power of Attorney Abuse?

When you, as a principal, create a power of attorney, you give your agent a significant amount of authority to conduct ...

Power of Attorney Vs. Trustee

The advantages of giving someone a power of attorney over your financial affairs are similar to those gained by naming ...

Abuse of a Power of Attorney for an Incapacitated Family Member

A power of attorney is a legal expression of trust where a principal grants an agent the ability to legally act on her ...

What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Power of Attorney?

While a power of attorney can be useful, you should consider some of the disadvantages of giving another person ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED