A power of attorney is a document that allows a person, called the principal, to give another person, called an agent, authority to act on his or her behalf. In Arizona, a person can create a power of attorney if they are 18 years of age or older and of sound mind.
It is important for the principal to choose a trusted person as his or her agent because once the power of attorney is executed, the agent is legally allowed to make important decisions.
With a general power of attorney, the principal can delegate unlimited authority to the agent. A special power of attorney delegates limited authority to the agent to act on behalf of the principal.
These documents can be made durable, which means that they will remain in effect or take effect if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated. However, these powers of attorney do not provide powers for healthcare decision-making or end-of-life planning.
The power of attorney becomes effective when the principal and witness sign it in front of a notary.
The principal can revoke the power of attorney at any time and for any reason. However, the revocation must be in writing and it must be provided to any interested third party, like a bank or financial institution with whom the principal or agent does business. In addition, with a durable power of attorney, the principal must be competent in order to revoke it.
Once the principal passes away, the power of attorney is no longer effective. An experienced attorney can provide guidance about power of attorney documents and related estate planning matters.