You can use a power of attorney to convey a range of abilities and rights to another person or organization. The rights granted by a power of attorney are limited by both the terms of the document and the state laws of the state where the power is created. State laws differ, so talk to a lawyer for legal advice and help about these issues.
A power of attorney gives someone else, either an individual or organization, the right to make legally binding decisions for you. When you grant a power of attorney, the people to whom you grant the power become your agents, also known as attorney-in-fact. You, known as the principal, dictate the rights the attorney-in-fact receives and can grant powers as broad or as limited as you choose. Powers of attorney must be made in writing, and you must be legally competent to grant these powers, which generally means you are at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
Many states include delegation of the agent's powers in their list of so-called "hot powers" of attorney. A hot power is one specifically designated by state law as a power that must be specifically granted in the power of attorney document. For example, according to the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado law requires that, if a power of attorney does not specifically state that the agent has the right to delegate powers to someone else, then the agent cannot do so.
If a principal grants power of attorney to an organization, that power may effectively be delegated to individuals within the organization without necessarily including a delegation clause in the power of attorney document. For example, if you grant your bank power of attorney to pay your bills while you are on vacation, the bank can generally assign any bank employee to see this gets done. The bank cannot, however, give this power to a different organization unless specifically authorized to do so.
Many powers of attorney also include clauses that name alternate agents if the first agent is unable or unwilling to perform his duties. For example, if an agent wishes to no longer act as the principal's attorney-in-fact, he can notify the alternate agent of this and have the alternate agent assume the responsibilities. Though similar to delegation of authority, the old agent is relieved of his powers as soon as he has an alternate agent take over and is no longer an attorney-in-fact.
- Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com