Senior citizens may sometimes entrust a person to carry out their official tasks through a power of attorney if they find it challenging to cope with their daily affairs because of their developed age or a terminal illness.
A power of attorney (PoA) is a legal document that ensures the entrusted person is legally authorised and takes all the official decisions on their behalf so that the show goes on as they wish.
The person is usually a confidante, or a trusted lieutenant, who is assigned the roles and responsibilities they would expect to undertake in the presence of a witness.
Abhishek Rastogi, the founder of the Rastogi Chambers, a legal firm, says: “Power of attorney is a legal authorisation that empowers a designated person with the legal power to act on behalf of some other person. It gives the agent or attorney-in-fact legal power, broad or limited, to act on behalf of the principal and make decisions, which could relate to property, finances, or medical care.”
PoA is mainly used during temporary or permanent illness, disability, and other unforeseen circumstances when the person cannot sign documents, he explains.
But there can be more than one POA; for example, one each for finance and health. “It depends on the senior citizen whom they want to appoint and in what capacity. In case there is no POA, during emergencies, the concerned party will have to move the court to get such an authority, which may be contested and disputed,” says Anushkaa Arora, principal and founder of ABA Law Office.
Who Requires A POA
Anyone above 18 years can have a POA since emergencies could hit anytime. “However, it is much required for senior citizens as their health could be unpredictable,” and someone can make decisions on their behalf, says Arora.
Agrees Mitali Naik, associate partner at DSK Legal, “A power of attorney is given by senior citizens who are unwell and cannot take care of their day-to-day functions or senior citizens who are travelling overseas for a long period.”
In such a situation, it is common for senior citizens to grant a power of attorney in favour of their children or family members living back home.
POA can also be misused sometimes. “While there is no harm, the principal must be careful about the person it is given to. The role and limitations, if any, must be specified,” says Rastogi. Otherwise, it may lead to legal complications.