Powers of Attorney allow someone else to handle business affairs for you when you can not or do not want to handle your own affairs.
Powers of attorney can be very limited. If you give your car to a consignment seller, for example, you will often sign a limited power of attorney allowing the agent to sell your car for a certain amount of money under specific circumstances.
Powers of attorney can also be very broad. These powers of attorney often purport to give the agent (or attorney in fact) all the powers that the person giving the power of attorney has himself or herself.
In fact, unless the power of attorney document specifically allows for gifting, or for selling something for less than fair market value, or for actions that benefit the agent, these things are forbidden under the law governing Powers of Attorney.
There are other limitations as well.
In addition, in Oregon, a person to whom a power of attorney is presented can reject the power of attorney for almost any reason they choose, so long as they are not violating someone’s civil rights, and so long as the reason they give for rejecting the power of attorney does not relate to the age of the power of attorney document.
This is actually a good thing, because it allows banks (for example) to decline to accept a power of attorney that would let the agent clear out your bank account if the banker doesn’t think this is really what you wanted.
A power of attorney can still be considered a license to steal, however, since if a person to whom a power of attorney is presented does accept the power of the agent, great harm can be done.
For this reason, it is wise to think long and hard before giving powers of attorney, and to carefully construct any power of attorney so that it is both broad enough to achieve the goals the person has, while (to the extent this is possible) also limiting uses that the person does not intend.
Form based powers of attorney often fall considerably short of the intended mark.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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