How do I cash a check as someones power of attorney?
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “My son has given me power of attorney. I am wondering what types of powers this gives me. For example, can I cash a check for him while he is out of the country?”
A power of attorney allows an individual to appoint someone, referred to as their attorney-in-fact or agent, to deal with legal, financial or medical certain issues. A power of attorney can be used, for example, if you become in capacitated or if you are unable to take certain actions on your own behalf and you would like another person to act in your stead.
Different types of power of attorney appointments
Before appointing a power of attorney or acting as the agent for someone who has given you power of attorney it’s important to understand exactly what this entails. There are several different types of power of attorney appointments. Let’s take a look at each one.
- Limited Power of Attorney
If you have been given limited power of attorney this means that someone has appointed you their attorney-in-fact for a limited purpose. For example, if you were buying property for another person and they could not appear at the closing, you might act as their limited power of attorney just for that limited transaction. This power would end, however, at the time specified in the document, presumably after the closing documents were signed.
- Durable Power of Attorney
If you are appointed someone’s durable power of attorney your responsibilities to act as their agent begin when they become incapacitated and cannot act on their own behalf. The durable power of attorney would end, however, at their death. Many individuals appoint a durable power of attorney while they are competent so when and if they become incapacitated they do not have to rely on the court to appoint a guardian or conservator.
- General Power of Attorney
General power of attorney gives you the right to act as the attorney-in-fact for another person. The person who gives you this authority does not have to be incapacitated; in fact, it could simply be someone like an older parent who does not want the responsibility of managing their own financial affairs. Like the durable power of attorney, however, the general power of attorney’s duties are terminated at death.
- Springing Power of Attorney
If you have been assigned as someone’s springing power of attorney you will have the same responsibilities as a durable power of attorney, but you will not perform your duties until the person you are serving is actually incapacitated and your duties are triggered.
What responsibilities do I need to perform for my son?
Now, you specifically mentioned that you would be cashing checks for your son. For this discussion we will assume that your son is unable to deal with his finances on his own for a specific period of time (e.g., he has gone out of the country to serve in the military and needs you to ensure his bills are paid while he is gone).
The good news is if he has made you his limited power of attorney or general power of attorney cashing a check and doing other various financial transactions for him should not be too difficult.
For example, if you need to cash a check all you need to do is go to his bank, endorse the check by signing the back of the check "his name by your name, his agent" or "his attorney in fact." You will need to bring the power of attorney document with you and present this document, along with your personal identification, to the bank.
Now, the bank may take issue if the check is for a large amount. In this case the process is the same, but they may want you to deposit the check first and wait for it to clear. They will then make you the power of attorney on the account, allowing you to spend the funds on his behalf.
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