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What Is a Attorney-in-Fact? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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An attorney-in-fact is someone who has been given the power of attorney to act on behalf of another. That someone is acting as an attorney-in-fact doesn’t necessarily mean that they are authorized by the state law. He or she will act according to the specific instructions written in the power of attorney document.

The power of attorney is a written document that authorizes one to act on the behalf of another. The person who is authorizing is called the principal. 

To become an attorney-in-fact, the probate attorney must ensure that you have appropriately signed on the power of attorney document. This authorizes them as your agent. It also means that they can carry out any action or responsibility on your behalf. The attorney-in-fact can be kept in charge of running the legal and financial affairs of the principal when they are asked to do so.

Who can be an attorney-in-fact? Notary, friends, or family members that are trusted well enough to act as good representatives.

Let’s quickly dive into details on how the attorney-in-fact functions. 

Why is an attorney-in-fact important? 

An attorney-in-fact is important because: 

  • They act as your representatives when you are involved with third parties
  • They also function with your best interest at heart

How is attorney-in-fact Structured

There are two major types of attorney-in-fact:

  • The general attorney. This allows the attorney-in-fact to handle business transactions and sign documents on another person’s behalf
  • Special power of attorney. This only allows the attorney in fact to handle specific business transactions and documents.

An attorney-in-fact isn’t the same as an attorney in law. Unlike an attorney-in-fact, an attorney in law is specifically trained and legally authorized to conduct legal cases to benefit another.

Whether it’s a commercial or personal transaction, court proceeding, a business deal, etc, an attorney at law will represent someone and act to help them achieve their aim. 

What is the Lifespan Of an Attorney-in-fact?

An attorney-in-fact can either be appointed by a principal to act as a representative from a specified period. They can also be asked to function on an ongoing basis pending till he or she decides to no longer act by revoking the power of attorney.

How is an Attorney-in-fact Used?

An attorney-in-fact can be used to:

  • Sign contracts
  • Open bank accounts
  • Seal certain transactions
  • Open a bank account
  • Conduct business transactions
  • Trade stocks
  • Sign on official documents, amongst a host of others.

Synonyms for an Attorney-in-fact

An attorney-in-fact can also be called a fiduciary or a private attorney

Frequently Asked Questions About Attorney-in-fact

Below are some common questions people ask about attorney-in-fact and their answers:

Q: How do you select an attorney-in-fact

A: there is no specific rule to adhere to while selecting an attorney-in-fact. However, you want to make sure that you can fully trust whoever it is you have chosen to properly represent you. Try to consider their age and the state of mental health too. 

Some other top qualities to look out for when choosing include:

  • Integrity
  • Competency
  • Organizational ability
  • Trustworthiness
  • Prudence

Q: Does an attorney-in-fact have to be in writing?

A: Your attorney does not have a reason to write except it’s clearly stated in the power of attorney document. With the instructions in the power of attorney document, your agent has the right to act in any capacity you want them to.

Q: Is an attorney-in-fact liable?

A: no, an attorney-in-fact is not obligated to pay off the debts of their principal. However, this can change if the agent does not act in the best interests of their principal or the agent agrees to the power of attorney document to help the principal set off their debts.

Q: Can attorney-in-fact delegate any granted authority?

A: Yes, you can allow your agent to delegate tasks. Still, you need to make sure that they are delegating to competent third parties so that you will not be misinterpreted under certain circumstances. 

Once you agree to task delegation, you need to update the power of attorney document stating the name of the new agent, and duties that have been assigned to them.

Q: Can I discuss wishes with my attorney-in-fact?

A:   yes. You need to set out time to discuss what you want to achieve with your attorney-in-fact. You both can agree that your agent won’t have to exercise any major authority in the power of attorney document except you are dead or can no longer take care of yourself.

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