Your attorney-in-fact only has the financial authority you grant him in the document creating a durable power of attorney for finances. Generally, an attorney-in-fact has broad authority to:
  • use your assets to pay your everyday expenses and those of your family
  • handle transactions with financial institutions
  • buy, sell, maintain, and mortgage property
  • file and pay your taxes
  • manage your retirement accounts
  • collect benefits from government programs or civil or military service

Beyond routine financial matters, you may want to authorize your attorney-in-fact to:

  • invest your money in securities
  • buy and sell insurance policies and annuities for you
  • operate your small business
  • claim or disclaim property you get from others
  • represent you in court
  • An attorney-in-fact cannot:
  • make healthcare decisions for you
  • marry on your behalf
  • adopt for you
  • vote in public elections on your behalf
  • make a will for you

The attorney-in-fact you appoint in your durable power of attorney is known as a "fiduciary," which is someone who holds a position of trust and must act in your best interests. Thus, your attorney-in-fact is required to:

  • be careful with your property by handling it honestly and prudently
  • avoid conflicts of interest
  • keep your property completely separate from her own
  • keep adequate records for all transactions made on your behalf

An attorney-in-fact is not directly supervised by a court and, as such, is not required to file reports with any government agencies. However, a loved one who has doubts about the attorney-in-fact may ask a court to order the attorney-in-fact to take certain actions or ask a court to terminate the power of attorney-in-fact and appoint a conservator to supervise your affairs. If a conservator is appointed for you, the attorney-in-fact has to account to the conservator. Some states have statutes that set out specific procedures for such court actions.