Top Ten Facts About Powers of Attorney

The person signing the power of attorney giving someone else the authority to act for them is called the “principal’ and the person who is given the power to act for you is called your “agent”.

Powers of attorney cannot be used after the death of the principal.

The agent only has the authority you specifically authorize in your power of attorney. The law was changed in 2010 that general language in a power of attorney is not enough.

Your power of attorney is effective immediately (not upon your incapacity), unless stated otherwise.

If you have named more than one agent, your agents may act independently unless your power of attorney states otherwise.

Banks and investment companies must honor your power of attorney; they cannot force you to sign their form power of attorney. In 2010 the law imposed liability on third parties who refuse to honor your current power of attorney unless it has been revoked.

You must expressly grant your agent the authority to create, alter or terminate a trust in your power of attorney should a trust become necessary for you.

An agent may not give themselves an interest in the principal’s property unless the agent is an ancestor, spouse or descendant of the principal. If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you may want your agent to also be able to give themselves your property, so this must be specifically included in your power of attorney.

Your agent has the responsibility to report abuse of others acting for the principal and requires your agent to take “any action reasonably appropriate to safeguard the principal’s best interest”.

If an agent fails to notify the principal of abuse by others or take action against the abuser, the agent may be liable for reasonably foreseeable damages that could have been avoided which include the obligation to restore property plus reimburse the principal for attorney fees.

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships. She can be contacted at: Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at:

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