Can a Power of Attorney Transfer Money to Themselves? Exploring the Legalities and Best Practices


When someone grants power of attorney to another person, they are giving that individual the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf. This can include anything from making medical choices to handling financial matters. But what happens when the attorney in question needs to transfer money to themselves? Is this legal? In this article, we’ll explore the legalities and best practices surrounding this topic to provide guidance for those facing this issue.

Defining Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (the grantor) to give authority to another person (the attorney-in-fact) to act on their behalf. The purpose of power of attorney is to ensure that someone can act on behalf of the grantor when they can’t due to illness, injury, or incapacity. This can be needed in various situations like healthcare, financial purposes, and legal matters.

The grantor of power of attorney can choose to grant authority only on certain matters, or they can grant general authority to the attorney-in-fact to act on their behalf in all matters.

Different Types

There are different types of power of attorney that an individual can grant, depending on their needs and preferences. The most common types of power of attorney include:

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney grants the attorney-in-fact the authority to handle the grantor’s financial matters, including banking, investments, bills, taxes, and other financial transactions.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney grants the attorney-in-fact the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the grantor, in case they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a type of financial power of attorney that remains in effect even if the grantor becomes incapacitated due to illness or injury.

Springing Power of Attorney

A springing power of attorney is one that only goes into effect when certain conditions are met, such as when the grantor becomes incapacitated.

Restrictions on Power of Attorney

While having power of attorney can be helpful in many situations, there are certain legal restrictions that attorneys-in-fact must abide by.

Some common restrictions include:

The attorney can’t act outside of their granted authority.

The attorney-in-fact must only act within the scope of their granted authority. They can’t make decisions or take actions on matters that aren’t specifically granted under power of attorney.

The attorney can’t act in their best interest over the grantor’s.

The attorney-in-fact must act in the best interest of the grantor, not their own. They can’t use their authority for personal gain, or make decisions that would harm the grantor.

The attorney can’t change the grantor’s will or benefits designations.

The attorney-in-fact can’t make changes to the grantor’s estate plan or beneficiaries without express permission from the grantor.

Is it Legal for an Attorney to Transfer Money to Themselves?

The answer to this question depends on the specific circumstances and the type of power of attorney granted. In general, it is legal for an attorney-in-fact to transfer money to themselves only if it is granted by the grantor and the transfer falls within the scope of the granted authority.

However, some states have stricter regulations regarding this issue. For instance, in California, unless it is explicitly stated in the power of attorney document, an attorney-in-fact is not authorized to make gifts to themselves.

There may also be other legal issues involved, such as taxes or financial reporting requirements. It’s essential for both the grantor and the attorney-in-fact to be aware of these issues and to consult a legal professional if necessary.

Examples of Powers of Attorney that Transfer Money

There are cases where attorneys were allowed to transfer funds to themselves using power of attorney. An example is a situation where an attorney is the sole beneficiary of the grantor’s bank account, and the power of attorney granted to them allows them to transfer funds between accounts or make withdrawals.

Another example is where the grantor is incapacitated, and the power of attorney granted to the attorney-in-fact specifies that they can pay themselves from the grantor’s accounts for their services.

In both cases, it is crucial to note that the transfer of the money is explicitly granted in the power of attorney document and falls within the granted authority.

Best Practices for Power of Attorney

To minimize legal issues and ensure that power of attorney is used appropriately, follow these best practices:

Choose a trustworthy attorney-in-fact.

It’s essential to choose someone who is reliable, honest, and has the grantor’s best interests at heart. The attorney-in-fact should have the necessary skills and expertise to handle the specific matters they are authorized to handle.

Clearly state the scope of power of attorney.

The power of attorney document should be explicit and clear about the extent of the attorney-in-fact’s authority. It should include all matters that the attorney-in-fact is authorized to handle and specify anything that they are not authorized to handle.

Regularly review and update the power of attorney document.

It’s essential to review the power of attorney document periodically and make changes as needed. If the grantor’s circumstances change, they may need to update the document to reflect these changes.

Keep detailed records and reports.

The attorney-in-fact should keep an accurate record of all transactions made on behalf of the grantor and provide regular reports to the grantor or their family members. This helps to ensure transparency and accountability.


In conclusion, power of attorney can be a useful tool to handle legal, financial, and healthcare matters when the grantor is unavailable. While it is legal for an attorney-in-fact to transfer funds to themselves, there are legal restrictions and potential issues that must be considered. By following best practices and seeking legal advice when necessary, both grantors and attorneys-in-fact can ensure that power of attorney is used appropriately and minimize legal issues.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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