What Is an Attorney In Fact

What is an attorney in fact? This is one very important aspect of the law in regard to power of attorney. That being said, it might interest you to know that an attorney in fact is an agent that is authorized to act on behalf of another different person.

What Is an Attorney In Fact

But the authorized person as you should know is not authorized to practice law and such an example is a person that is authorized to act by a power of attorney.

What Is an Attorney In Fact

An attorney in fact is a person who has been granted legal authority to act on behalf of another individual in specific matters or areas. This legal authority is typically established through a legal document known as a power of attorney (POA).

When someone designates another person as their attorney in fact, they are referred to as the “principal.” The principal grants the attorney in fact the power to make decisions, conduct transactions, and handle legal or financial matters on their behalf. The scope of authority can be broad or limited, depending on the terms specified in the power of attorney document.

It’s essential to note that the term “attorney” in this context does not necessarily refer to a lawyer or someone with a legal degree. In many jurisdictions, any competent adult can be designated as an attorney in fact. However, the person chosen should be someone the principal trusts to act in their best interests, as they will have the power to make important decisions on their behalf.

The power of attorney can be useful in situations where the principal may be unable to handle their affairs due to physical or mental incapacity, or if they need someone to represent them in specific legal or financial matters while they are unavailable. The power of attorney can be temporary or durable, with the latter remaining in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.

It’s crucial to consult with a legal professional when creating a power of attorney to ensure that the document complies with local laws and meets the specific needs and intentions of the principal.

The Pros and Cons of an Attorney In Fact

Having an attorney in fact can offer several advantages, but it also comes with potential drawbacks. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons:


Convenience and Assistance

An attorney in fact can help manage your affairs when you are unable to do so, providing convenience and assistance in handling legal, financial, or administrative matters. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who may be traveling, facing health issues, or simply need extra support.


If the attorney in fact is knowledgeable about legal and financial matters, they can make informed decisions on your behalf, potentially saving you time and ensuring that important tasks are handled competently.


By appointing an attorney in fact, you ensure that someone is authorized to act on your behalf in the event of incapacity or unavailability. This helps maintain continuity in managing your affairs without the need for court intervention.


You have the flexibility to define the scope of authority granted to the attorney in fact in the power of attorney document. This allows you to tailor the arrangement to suit your specific needs and preferences.


Potential for Abuse

Granting someone else significant power over your affairs can be risky. There is a possibility of abuse or misuse of authority by an unscrupulous or untrustworthy attorney in fact. Careful consideration and selection of the person are crucial to mitigate this risk.

Lack of Personal Involvement

Having an attorney in fact handle your affairs means you might not be directly involved in important decisions. If the attorney in fact doesn’t fully understand your wishes or preferences, there could be potential conflicts or decisions made against your best interests.

Costs and Legal Complexity

Setting up a power of attorney requires legal documentation, which might involve expenses. Additionally, if disputes arise, legal proceedings could be costly and time-consuming.

Limited Scope

Depending on the powers granted, there might be certain actions the attorney in fact cannot take on your behalf, which could result in additional complexities or delays.

Reliability and Trust

Even if someone is trustworthy at the time of appointment, circumstances may change, leading to potential issues with their dependability in the future.

Bottom Line

To mitigate the drawbacks and maximize the benefits of having an attorney in fact, it’s essential to carefully choose a trustworthy and competent individual and to clearly define the scope of their authority in the power of attorney document. Seeking legal advice and periodically reviewing and updating the document as needed can help ensure that your interests are protected.



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