The Elrod Firm


What Can I Do as Power of Attorney?

Justin, My father named me as his power of attorney several years ago. He has always managed his own business, but recently he hasn’t taken care of things like he used to—he stopped paying his bills and seems to be ignoring his doctor’s advice. What can I do as his POA? – Andy

Andy, Most POA documents allow the person who receives authority to do almost anything the person who granted the authority could have done for himself, but you’ll need to review the document to see what specific authority he included. The way most POAs are drafted, you’ll be able to sign checks to pay your father’s bills, deal with his bank, manage his investments, and take care of his home. There are two types of POAs, one for business and one for healthcare; the second would allow you to manage his healthcare if he is unable to do so himself.

There are two main limitations you should be aware of. First, the documents themselves could be limited in scope, only including certain authority or expressly excluding certain powers. I find limitations, however, to be rare—most documents grant broad authority. The second and more concerning limitation is that you cannot do anything against your father’s express wishes. While you do not need your father’s express permission to use the powers granted under the POA, no POA document allows the agent to override the wishes of one who granted the power.

In order to engage in business dealings that conflict with your father’s wishes, force him to receive medical care he is refusing, or admit him to a healthcare facility that he does not want, you would need a court-ordered guardianship.

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