Michigan law provides for the establishment of a legally recognized relationship, short of a Probate Court Conservatorship, by which one person can act for another in business and legal matters. See MCLA §700.5501.
Called “Durable Powers of Attorney”, I refer to them as Financial/Business Powers of Attorney, to distinguish them from Medical Powers of Attorney (aka “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care”; see below. By whatever name, a financial/business power of attorney can be helpful in a number of situations:
- Where you have business that needs to be conducted during times you know you will not be readily available to sign papers, or make decisions; you may be away for the winter (e.g., “snowbirds”), or you may be away during a critical time period, when the business must be conducted;
- Where you want to designate someone to act on your behalf, permanently, in the event you are disabled, and therefore unable to make those decisions, but you want to retain your decision-making authority, until such time as you become disabled
- Where you immediately want to designate someone to act on your behalf, in financial and business affairs, immediately, to have the assurance that your affairs will be handled appropriately
- Where someone has designated you as their “power of attorney”, you can move forward with such things as time-urgent real estate transactions, time-urgent banking and/or brokerage transactions, and other financial and business matters, and not be left stranded by the property owner’s absence or disability.
The actual technical term for what I call “agent” is an “attorney-in-fact”. I like the term “agent” better, because it prevents confusion where a transaction includes both an agent under a power of attorney, and a real live lawyer. As well, the word “agent” sounds less pompous and legalese/legalistic. Finally, the word “agent” describes what your role (or your representative’s role) really is.