Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Campbell County Attorney: Power of Attorney

Steven J. Franzen. Provided. 
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Frequently, our office is asked about a Power of Attorney and its applicability as a commonly used legal document.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that assigns another person to take care of your affairs for you.  The person assigned, your agent, is typically responsible for taking care of financial or healthcare matters on your behalf.  Like all other legal documents, a person must be competent to enter into and grant a Power of Attorney.


The authority granted under any Power of Attorney will vary depending upon the exact language used.  However, a General Power of Attorney usually grants someone else authority to handle all matters as if the person granting the Power of Attorney were conducting the business themselves.  A Power of Attorney is required to deal with the property of the other person using the utmost good faith to handle matters for the best interests of the person granting the Power of Attorney.

If someone with a Power of Attorney does not act in good faith or outside the scope of the Power of Attorney, that person may be accountable for a violation of fiduciary duty.  Any civil action brought for a violation must be made within five years of the breach.

The person given the Power of Attorney is not required to use any of his own funds or assets for the other person, but merely to deal with the other person’s property in that person’s best interests.  If there is to be any use of the funds for the personal debts of the person appointed or others, there should be authority to do such in writing signed by the person granting the Power of Attorney.  Furthermore, if the person performing the duties as Power of Attorney is to be compensated a fee for rendering those services, then there should be something in writing to that affect signed by the one who has appointed the other person as Power of Attorney.

One very important reason to grant someone a Power of Attorney over your financial or health care needs, is to avoid the comparatively cumbersome process of going through a guardianship proceeding should it be necessary to place a trusted individual in charge of your affairs.  A Power of Attorney easily circumvents this process.

A common question our office receives is when does a Power of Attorney end.  A Power of Attorney ends or is terminated in a variety of instances.  Some of those instances include: (1) upon death; (2) upon granting by the Courts of a guardianship and conservatorship; and (3) upon termination of the Power of Attorney by the person who granted the authority.

I hope this information is interesting and helpful.  If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at countyattorney@campbellcountyky.org, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

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