Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a written document in which an individual (the “principal”) designates another person (the “agent”) to exercise powers or perform acts on their behalf. When a Power of Attorney goes into effect, the agent acts for the principal. Although the agent has a duty to act in the principal’s best interests, it is critical that principals only appoint agents who they trust completely.
A Power of Attorney can take several forms. For example, principals can appoint a family member to handle all of their financial affairs if they become unable to do so, or only to sell a particular piece of property on their behalf if they cannot handle the transaction. In Pennsylvania, adults may also create health care powers of attorney appointing an agent to make medical decisions on their behalf. Although agents in health care powers of attorney do not have to acknowledge and accept appointment, principals should be sure to speak with their prospective agent prior to appointment.
Anyone 18 years of age and older can create a Power of Attorney, but the principal must have capacity at the time that he/she reads and signs the document.
PA Department of Aging
Office of the Chief Counsel
555 Walnut St., 5th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1919