Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document that allows you (the "principal") to appoint another person to act on your behalf.  This other person is generally referred to as your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact."  An agent can be appointed to do almost anything for you, such as signing checks, paying bills, making health care decisions, buying property, etc.  As long as the power of attorney is valid, the acts of the agent that are within the authority spelled out in the power of attorney are legally binding on you, the principal, just as though you performed the acts. 

 By law, a power of attorney is revoked, and an agent’s power to act automatically stops, if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated.  In Missouri and in most other states, a power of attorney with proper wording may be made “durable.”  This means that the power of the agent to act on the principal’s behalf can continue despite the principal’s incapacity.  Through a durable power of attorney, an agent may continue to act on a principal's behalf even after that individual has had a stroke or other incapacitating illness or accident.  This allows the power of attorney to be utilized when it is really needed - when you can not act on your own behalf.  

Powers of attorney generally come in two forms – powers of attorneys for financial matters and powers of attorney for health care matters.  As there name implies, health care powers of attorney appoint some else to make medical decsions for you in the event of a disability.  These health care powers of attorney are typically used in conjunction with a living will or health care declarationFinancial durable powers of attorney appoint another to make financial type decisions on your behalf.

For more information about powers of attorney please contact us for a free initial consultation or ask for our brochure titled "Understanding the Basics of Powers of Attorney."


The Law Office of Richard C. Petrofsky assists clients with Estate and Gift Planning, Wills, Trusts, Charitable Planning, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law and Medicaid Planning, Estate and Family Planning for Same-Sex Couples and LGBT Individuals, Asset Protection Planning and Corporate and Business Planning in St. Louis, Missouri and surrounding areas.