A general power of attorney allows a person to act on behalf of the principal in any and all matters, as allowed by the state. The agent under a General Power of Attorney agreement may be authorized to take care of issues such as handling bank accounts, signing checks, selling property and assets like stocks, filing taxes, etc. This type of POA goes into effect immediately and ends upon the incapacitation of or death of the principal. It is only valid while the principal is competent or, in other words, while the principal is able to make decisions for him or herself and understand the consequences of those decisions. This is because the principal needs to be aware enough to agree to have control released on their behalf.