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  • Pay bills, cash checks

  • Collect debts  

  • Prepare and file tax returns

  • Manage personal property and real estate

  • Bring legal actions on behalf of the principal

  • Apply for social security benefits or other public benefits

  • Manage bank and investment accounts

  • Hire financial, accounting and legal professionals

  • Nominate a guardian for the principal if the POA is challenged

  • Designate guardian or 3rd party custodian for minor children.

How to Select an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact?

An attorney-in-fact must keep records of all financial transactions and uphold their fiduciary responsibility to act in the principal’s best interest.

When preparing their General POAs, many clients select their spouse, an adult child, another family member or a close friend.

The principal can name two or more individuals as co-attorneys-in-fact and they can act together to handle financial affairs.

In Washington State there are professional fiduciaries who can serve as attorney-in-fact for a reasonable fee.

It is critical to name a back-up or an alternative attorney-in-fact should the nominated agent be unable or unwilling to perform their duties.

General power of attorney

What is a general power of attorney?

A General Durable Power of Attorney (GPOA) is a document that allows the principal to provide authority to an individual, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to manage personal finances and assets in the event that the principal is unable to do so due to incapacity. This could happen due to an illness or an accident.

Should someone become unable to manage their own personal finances, an attorney-in-fact can have the legal authority to do exercise numerous powers.

A General Durable Power of Attorney can also name an agent or attorney-in-fact for health care and/or medical decisions. This authority allows for management of medical care and treatment and works together with a Health Care Directive, or Living Will, for end of life decision making.

Special or limited power of attorney

A special or limited durable power of attorney can be executed by a principal for a specific transaction, time period or other limited purpose. A POA may be revoked by the principal and automatically terminates when the principal dies. It is not a substitute for a will. In the event of the principal’s death, the principal's will is the sole document determining decision-making power.

What powers does an attorney-in-fact have? 

An attorney-in-fact acting under a general durable power of attorney can have the legal authority to the following:

For help with your power of attorney, call our knowledgeable estate planning attorney at 360.630.3635.