If you’re named the agent under someone’s power of attorney, the person that named you — the “principal” — gave you permission to step into their shoes and act on their behalf.

In most powers of attorney, when the principal cannot act for him or herself, you have the authority to conduct financial business on behalf of the principal. That means paying bills, collecting payments, and much more.

An agent is a fiduciary to the principal, which means you have to act in good faith toward the principal, keeping the principal’s interests in mind.

It’s important that you document everything you do as principal, should your actions be called into question down the road. You should keep your own finances completely separate from the principal’s finances.

If you are unsure about your role, review the document and meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss your responsibilities and options.

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