A power of attorney document allows an individual that you select (your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) to act on your behalf in financial matters. It is common for a deploying servicemember to sign a power of attorney document, giving power to a family member or friend. The power of attorney document is also a common estate planning tool that veterans may use.

When a person acts as your attorney-in-fact, that person can transact financial business as though he or she is you. For instance, your attorney-in-fact might purchase an automobile or house in your name or might also withdraw funds from your bank accounts. The decisions your attorney-in-fact may make on your behalf can affect your financial future, including your eligibility for employment, housing, and credit. It can also affect your military career, including your eligibility for security clearance.

Limiting a Power of Attorney

There are some important factors to consider before making someone your attorney-in-fact, such as how trustworthy and responsible the person is. Even if you trust the person completely, you can take steps to limit the power you give to your attorney-in-fact. There are many ways to limit a power of attorney document, and you should discuss the document thoroughly with a lawyer. Do not sign the document until you understand everything in it.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

When you no longer need the power of attorney, for example, after returning from deployment, you can revoke it. To revoke a power of attorney, notify your attorney-in-fact in writing that the power has been revoked, and request that your attorney-in-fact return any copies of the power of attorney document to you. You should also send written notification to any business or person that may have received a copy of the document, telling them that you have revoked the power of attorney.