What Do You Call the Absolute Power of Attorney?

By Teo Spengler

You may find references on the Web to an "absolute" power of attorney that remains in effect after death, but no such animal exists. Although these important legal documents can grant agents extremely broad authority in both financial and health care matters, every power of attorney expires upon the death of the maker.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney have little to do with lawyers. Rather, the legal documents are vehicles that allow you to appoint someone to make decisions and take actions in your place. The person making the power of attorney, termed the principal, decides on the scope of the authority granted. For example, you can use a financial power of attorney to name an agent to sell your house or you can name someone to take complete control of your finances.

Terminating Powers of Attorney

A competent principal can terminate her power of attorney at any time after making it. No formal revocation procedure is necessary as long as the agent is informed, but it is preferable to put it in writing. Regular powers of attorney also expire if the principal becomes incapacitated, but durable powers of attorney do not; they continue in full force until the principal's death. An agent misusing authority granted under a power of attorney, the POA can be terminated by the court.

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Death Ends All

The death of a principal terminates a power of attorney in every state. Since an agent's role is to make decisions and take actions in a principal's stead, it makes sense that this authority terminates with the demise of the principal. After a principal dies, her estate passes to her heirs or beneficiaries, who can manage their affairs as they see fit.

Absolute Power of Atttorney

Although no power of attorney lasts beyond the death of the principal, such sweeping powers are afforded by a durable, general power of attorney that it may be appropriate to call it absolute. Whether financial or medical, a durable power of attorney gives the agent the right to act virtually unsupervised in the principal's stead. Although the agent is in a fiduciary relationship with the principal, charged with a very high duty of good faith and fair dealing, it is difficult for loved ones to monitor an agent's actions if the principal is incapacitated.

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Laws for Power of Attorney in New Hampshire


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Can a Judge Take Away Someone's Durable Power of Attorney?

An agent under a durable power of attorney has legal authority over someone else's finances or medical care decisions. But he is also a fiduciary, held to the highest duty of care known to the law. If the agent violates that duty of care by failing to act in the best interests of the principal, a court can take away his authority and hold him accountable.

Does a Durable Power of Attorney Require Witnesses?

A durable power of attorney is a document that authorizes your appointed agent to sign documents and perform other actions on your behalf. What makes a power of attorney durable is that it remains in effect even after you become mentally incompetent or otherwise unable to manage your affairs. Because a durable power of attorney can give your agent great power over your finances, property or even health care decisions, anyone being asked to rely upon it needs to know that it is genuine and valid. Witnesses or a notary public’s acknowledgement serves as proof that your power of attorney is authentic.

Can Banks Do Power of Attorney Forms for You?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to act in your place. This is useful if you want a friend to sell your car or an agent your house, but you also can use a power of attorney to name someone to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. Some banks provide power-of-attorney forms, but they cannot "do" them for you; you must fill in and sign the document before it is effective.

Power of Attorney

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