There may be times when you need someone to handle a financial transaction for you, say if you are out of town, or if you are temporarily laid up in the hospital. You can appoint someone to act in your place, with full authority to complete whatever transaction you would have been able to complete on your own.
A Power of Attorney grants the “attorney in fact” the right to administer your property in your place. Usually spouses will appoint each other as their “attorneys in fact” but not appoint a backup or successor - this position has total control over your assets and could, in theory, sell a property out from under you. Thus, the person(s) appointed to act as your attorney in fact must be of the highest character and trustworthiness.
While spouses often grant each other "general" powers of attorney covering most or all of their property and assets, "special" or "limited" powers of attorney are available which appoint a person to handle a specific transaction, or to handle a specific asset. Sometimes you will see a form power of attorney provided by a financial institution when they are handling a transaction (such as reissuing stock after a merger, etc.), but individuals can make special appointments as well for whatever transactions they need.
In all cases, be aware that the attorney in fact will have broad powers with regard to the property over which he or she is appointed. Be careful in selecting only trustworthy people to act as your attorney in fact.
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