What differentiates attorney-in-fact vs power of attorney?

What differentiates attorney-in-fact vs power of attorney?

What differentiates attorney-in-fact vs power of attorney?

This blog covers the difference between an attorney-in-fact and a power of attorney. An attorney-in-fact is a person who takes action on the designated authority of another legal lawyer. He is not a person who has completed his law qualification and is eligible to practice law in courts.

An attorney-in-fact signs the document which is called power of attorney. It contains all terms and conditions on which the attorney-in-fact has to act. An authorized lawyer prepares it and allows the attorney to perform his duties according to the particulars of the document. A detailed description of the difference between the attorney-in-fact and a power of attorney is present below.

What is an attorney-in-fact?

An attorney-in-fact is a person who has not got a lawyer education. He is not allowed to do the practice with the lawyer in court. Attorney at law appoints him on his behalf. He may be any one of his family members and close friends. An attorney-in-fact should be trustable for the attorney at law. The relationship of trust is vital between these two members. He is represented by a lawyer and involves in business and many other financial matters.

Classification of attorney-in-fact based on authority 

Attorney has three categories on the difference between responsibilities and authorities. These categories based on power have different duties and are different from each other. 

  • General attorney 
  • Limited attorney 
  • Special attorney 
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General attorney-in-fact

A general attorney-in-fact has powers and authorities on behalf of the designated lawyer. There are many duties and responsibilities of the general attorney. Most controls of general attorney are related to deal all matters of finance and business.

Why is it needed to hire a general attorney-in-fact?

There are several reasons in which we need to hire a general attorney-in-fact. Sometimes parents who perform their duty in law practice fall ill. They cannot attend court and handle all financial and other legal matters. They hire their child to look after all matters in such critical situations. The parents appoint their child as an attorney general and handle all financial matters such as withdrawing money from the bank and being eligible for opening and closing bank accounts. Besides these responsibilities, he takes care of all business-related matters nicely. 

The second reason to hire a general attorney is if the parent or someone else is healthy, but suddenly, he meets an accident. Due to emergency and ill-health, he cannot attend court and manage all matters. Sometimes, in those critical situations, the doctor advised him to take bed rest. Therefore, he feels the need to hire someone else for help.

The third reason is that he is old and becomes tired to handle financial matters. He can not travel a long distance to maintain his accounts. To manage accounts, he hires an agent who works according to that person’s instruction.

Limited attorney-in-fact

The limited attorney-in-fact is entirely different from a general attorney-in-fact due to his jobs and responsibilities. The power of the limited attorney-in-fact shows from the name. The word limited refers to the authorities of the attorney is limited. They are not free to do anything. The particulars mentioned in the document are essential to follow it. The power of this category is less than a general attorney. According to the legal report, he can do transactions, withdraw amounts, and pay bills. He does not deal with business and other financial issues against the document.

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Special attorney-in-fact

The special words refer to the agent’s specific tasks, duties, and responsibilities. The principal assigns this type of attorney according to his particular requirements. This attorney is concerned only with particular tasks. The duties of this attorney are customizable and according to the taste of the principal. The purpose of this assigns is only to fulfill those special tasks that the principal cannot perform.

Drawbacks of the authorities of the attorney-in-fact

  • The powers of the attorney-in-fact are limited and timely. 
  • These agents are not permanent.
  • They have only authority until the principal is alive.
  • When the principal is passed away, they lose all powers and commands.

What is the Power of Attorney?

It is a legal document that consists of all rules and regulations. These terms and conditions are necessary to follow the agent. The principal appoints an agent to manage finance and all other law-related matters. The reasons for hiring the agents are many such as the principal is old, he is unable to do, and some are other issues. The agent is bound to follow all instructions of the principal. He is not free to do anything with his will.

Difference between attorney-in-fact and power of attorney

Sometimes, people are confused between two terms power of attorney and attorney-in-fact. Some people consider these are two similar terms, and there is no difference between them. But it is entirely wrong. There is a significant difference between them. It is a blunder to think and consider them, that they are similar. 

The straightforward and easy difference between attorney-in-fact and power of attorney is;

The attorney-in-fact is an agent or a person a principal hires to manage all finance matters and other duties related to law. The reason is that the principal himself cannot perform his task due to illness, disease, sudden surgery, accident, old age, etc. 

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A power of attorney is not a person and agent. It is a document that contains all information and rules on how to work the attorney-in-fact.

Types of power of attorney

There are four types of power of attorney

  • General power of attorney
  • A durable power of attorney
  • Special and limited power of attorney
  • Springing durable power of attorney

General power of attorney

This power of attorney consists of the agent’s authority to handle almost all financial and business matters freely.

A durable power of attorney

This document includes authorities of the agent after the principal incapacitated within the durable clause.

Special and limited power of attorney

This type of attorney is related to the limited and specific power of the agent.

Springing durable power of attorney

Springing word refers to the specific events that occur in the principal’s life. 


To sum up, there is a clear and defined difference between attorney-in-fact and power of attorney. The first is an agent who acts and follows the principal’s instructions. The latter is the document containing all required rules and regulations that an agent must follow.