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Acting on your behalf: What to consider before granting a power of attorney

Aviano Air Base, Italy -- One important matter to consider during pre-deployment planning is a power of attorney. 
A power of attorney authorizes another person to manage your personal affairs in your absence. The person authorized is considered your attorney-in-fact. 

Powers of attorney come in two forms: special and general. 

A special power of attorney, sometimes called a limited power of attorney, authorizes a person to perform a specific act or acts. A special power of attorney can be very useful when addressing matters such as shipping vehicles, buying and selling property, settling insurance claims, authorizing medical treatment for minors, and managing financial accounts. 

This power of attorney is much safer than granting a general power of attorney since limits are estbalished on what the attroney-in fact can do. 

A general power of attorney grants a broader authority to someone acting on your behalf. It includes writing checks, opening and closing accounts, borrowing money, entering into contracts, and selling personal property. 

A general power of attorney can be very dangerous if put in the wrong hands since the person can access accounts and enter contracts on your behalf. This power of attorney should not be granted unless the individual making it is fully aware of the risks associated. 

People should take great consideration and care on deciding who will be their attorney-in-fact. Remember that you can be held personally liable for actions taken by your attorney-in-fact so make sure the person is honest, responsible and trustworthy. 

Before making a power of attorney, consider what actions are needed to be completed by the attorney-in-fact. Anybody can refuse a power of attorney, so before deploying or entering a situation where you need a power of attorney, make sure the person who will be the attorney-in-fact agrees to it. 

Those interested in a power of attorney should also consider how long they want it to last. A power of attorney should not last longer than necessary. The more recent the power of attorney and the shorter duration it remains in effect, the greater the likelihood it will be accepted by a third party, such as a business.