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What is a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal form that allows you (known as the Principal) to appoint another person, known as the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact, to make decisions on your behalf.

There are also Durable Power of Attorneys to appoint a person to control your finances.

Medical Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Health Care Directives allow you to name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. 

When to Use a Power of Attorney

Power of Attorneys can be used when you need to flexibly delegate financial responsibilities to another person in your absence or incapacity. 

Some of these financial responsibilities include:

  • Signing contracts

  • Buying and selling stocks and bonds

  • Managing your real estate investments

  • Collecting pensions from the government or military

  • Managing commercial transactions

  • Making financial gifts to family members and employees

Alternatively, POAs can be used to create contingencies for when you reach advanced age or become incapacitated. 

Power of Attorney Document Sample

The generic example below shows what a completed Power of Attorney form normally looks like. This document can’t be used across all states and in all circumstances, however using LawDistrict’s template creation tools, you can build a form that is specific to your necessities.

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General Power of attorney sample form

Types of Power of Attorney

There are many types of Power of Attorney that an individual can take out. This depends on what you, as the principal, wish to delegate to your appointed agent. 

In all cases, Power of Attorney forms allow individuals to carefully plan for their future healthcare or financial needs. They enable the principal to have peace of mind that all their affairs will be managed responsibly if they are unable to give their agreement in person.

Fortunately, In the United States, it is a simple process to sign a POA and assign an agent thanks to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. 

The most common POAs are listed below. 

Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney

A Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney, permits your appointed agent to make legal and business decisions for you if you become disabled, incapacitated, or unable to handle these matters on your own. 

Some of these decisions include: 

  • Handling bank accounts

  • Settling claims

  • Managing assets

  • Filing taxes 

  • Purchasing life insurance 

  • Making gifts

  • Managing real estate holdings

  • Buying and selling stocks and bonds

  • Signing contracts

While “nondurable” powers of attorneys are automatically terminated if the individual who made them loses mental capacity. A Durable Power of Attorney remains effective until revocation of Power of Attorney is carried out or the principal dies. 

This is why the process of conservatorship is so important. You need to make sure you select the correct agent.

Medical Power of Attorney

Medical POAs allow your agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated or unconscious. 

The agent you choose can then carry out decisions that have to do with surgery or end-of-life care. 

This allows your wishes regarding your treatment to be respected even if you cannot give your consent due to an accident, injury, or illness.

The person you name to take care of these decisions on your behalf is known as your healthcare agent or proxy. 

Child Power of Attorney

A POA form exists for minors as well, and it is used in the event a parent or parents must grant temporary parental authority to another individual

This usually takes place when a minor’s parent(s) or legal guardian cannot look after their child for whatever reason.

A Child Power of Attorney is a less permanent form of a guardianship as it is typically only given for a period of 6 to 12 months.

If an agent is given this authority they can make health care or educational decisions for the minor. They can also accompany the child or children on any international trips. 

Springing Power of Attorney

A Springing Power of Attorney gives an agent the power to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf, such as those entrusted by durable and general POAs. However, a Springing POA only comes into effect when certain conditions are met. 

Although this type of document can entrust the same responsibilities given by other POAs, it is conditional, and it remains inactive until the principal becomes incapacitated. 

Special Power of Attorney 

A Special Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an individual to manage a one-off transaction or financial action. With a Special POA, your attorney-in-fact will only be able to only manage specific affairs for you for a limited duration.

Types of power of attorney

Uniform Power of Attorney Act

Each state has their own laws regarding the creation of POA documents. To make it easier for anyone who may move to another location, certain states have adopted and enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA). 

The UPOAA definition of Power of Attorney (UPOAA Section 102 (page 7)) states that a POA is created whenever decision-making authority is granted to another individual:

“Power of attorney” means a writing or other record that grants authority to an agent to act in the place of the principal, whether or not the term power of attorney is used.

If you created a POA in a state that follows this definition and has enacted the UPOAA certain key elements will be standardized in your document such as:

  • Who is considered to be a valid agent

  • Which powers can be given to an agent

  • How a POA relationship can be ended

This ensures that parts of your POA will not be upheld.

How to Write a Power of Attorney Form

Creating a Power of Attorney is a fairly simple process if all parties are in agreement and of sound mind. In many cases, it’s as easy as creating a form and having it signed and notarized (depending on your state’s laws).

When writing a POA, simply follow these steps:

Choose an Agent

Decide who will be your agent(s). This should be someone you trust and who you can confidently grant this authority to manage your finances or affairs. 

You can choose more than one agent if you wish.

Designate a Successor Agent

Stipulate if you are appointing any successor agents. These individuals will be able to take over if one or more agents cannot serve for any reason.

You should also assign a second successor agent in case both of your primary choices cannot act as your agent.

Grant Authority and Limitations

You can choose to grant your agents control over all your affairs or pick and choose the subjects you want them to have control over.

You may also select any specific acts you would like or not like your agent to have control over such as creating a beneficiary designation.

Specify the effective date

Specify when these powers will begin and end in the future: Normally, Power of Attorney starts as soon as you sign the document, but you can also specify a future date or triggering event for when your Agent can act for you if you wish.

Signing requirements

Both you and the agent(s) should sign the document. The signing of the document may need to be officially witnessed, or you may need to visit a notary public or state official before signing to ensure the final document is valid. 

These requirements vary from state-to-state.

Notarize the document

Notarize the signing by visiting a notary public in the state where your document is to take effect. Be aware, not every state requires you to perform this step. 

However, by going to a notary public you can add legitimacy to your document even in states that do not require it.

Store the document

Keep the document somewhere safe for further use. Your agent will need to present the completed and signed form whenever they perform one of their appointed duties. When completed, signed, and notarized, the Agent will then be able to approve transactions, sell a property and handle your assets in your place.

In order to do so, they will need to present the approved form when signing a contract on your behalf and must name both you, the Principal, and themselves as Attorney-in-Fact on the form.

Other Estate Planning Documents

There are similar legal documents that can further help you choose someone to make decisions regarding your property, health, and finances on your behalf.

These related documents can give you more control when it comes to ensuring that your financial and medical wishes are respected. 

These documents include:

Revise these legal forms to give yourself further control of your finances, property, and health.

Power of Attorney FAQs

If you’re still uncertain if a Power of Attorney template is right for you, have a read through our FAQs to find out more.

The points below better explain the options available and how the process of getting a POA approved works.

Does a Power of Attorney Have to Be Notarized?

You may need to notarize your Power of Attorney, depending on the state that it will be signed and used in. 

Certain states require two witnesses and notarization, or the option of two witnesses or notarization to be considered legally valid. 

Even if your state doesn’t require you to have your Power of Attorney notarized, you will strengthen the validity of your document by doing so.

Always review your state’s signing requirements beforehand. 

How to Sign as Power of Attorney?

Signing a Power of Attorney is essential to ensure that the document is considered legally valid. 

Once the principal has named you as agent and signed the document, you must add your signature as well. 

Once you are ready, sign the document in this manner:

[Name of Principal], by [Name of Agent], Attorney-in-fact

[Agent Signature Sample]

Who Can Override a Power of Attorney?

There are a few ways to override a Power of Attorney. First of all, you can simply revoke it, as the principal retains the right to remove the powers at any time. 

If, on the other hand, you wish to revoke the Power of Attorney of an already incapacitated family member, you will have to write to the agent to ask them to formally step down as POA. 

If they refuse, you may then need to take the matter to court and appoint guardianship before the powers of the agent become inactive.

When Does Power of Attorney End?

A Power of Attorney always ends when the principal dies or revokes the document. However, depending on the POA you choose to activate, other factors can end the use of this legal instrument.

You can stipulate in any POA a future date or incident that ends the validity of the document.

Additionally, if you have a General Power of Attorney, it cannot be used if you become disabled or incapacitated. In order to extend the validity of your agent’s powers beyond your future disability or mental incompetence, you will need a Durable POA. 

Where Can I Get a Power of Attorney Form?

The Power of Attorney form is a legal document that can be acquired either online, from your bank or healthcare provider, or from an Attorney-at-Law, although this option can incur costs. 

LawDistrict allows you to create a Power of Attorney online for free and for a variety of purposes. All you need to do is answer a few questions to design a bespoke POA that can respond to your specific needs.

The type of Power of Attorney form you choose and where you get it ultimately depends on what your necessities are and how and why you wish to appoint a Power of Attorney.

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General Power of attorney sample form

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DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY

Notice to Person Executing Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is an important legal document. By signing the durable power of attorney, you are authorizing another person to act for you, the principal. Before you sign this durable power of attorney, you should know these important facts:

Your agent (attorney-in-fact) has no duty to act unless you and your agent agree otherwise in writing. This document gives your agent the powers to manage, dispose of, sell, and convey your real and personal property, and to use your property as security if your agent borrows money on your behalf. This document does not give your agent the power to accept or receive any of your property, in trust or otherwise, as a gift, unless you specifically authorize the agent to accept or receive a gift.

Your agent will have the right to receive reasonable payment for services provided under this durable power of attorney, unless you provide otherwise in this power of attorney.

The powers you give your agent will continue to exist for your entire lifetime, unless you state that the durable power of attorney will last for a shorter period of time or unless you otherwise terminate the durable power of attorney. The powers you give your agent in this durable power of attorney will continue to exist even if you can no longer make your own decisions respecting the management of your property.

You can amend or change this durable power of attorney only by executing a new durable power of attorney or by executing an amendment through the same formalities as an original. You have the right to revoke or terminate this durable power of attorney at any time, so long as you are competent.

This durable power of attorney must be dated and must be acknowledged before a notary public or attested to by 2 witnesses. A durable power of attorney that may affect real property should be acknowledged before a notary public so that it may easily be recorded.

You should read this durable power of attorney carefully. When effective, this durable power of attorney will give your agent the right to deal with property that you now have or might acquire in the future. The durable power of attorney is important to you. If you do not understand the durable power of attorney, or any provision of it, then you should obtain the assistance of an attorney or other qualified person.

NOTICE: THE POWERS GRANTED BY THIS DOCUMENT ARE BROAD AND SWEEPING. THEY ARE EXPLAINED IN THE UNIFORM STATUTORY FORM POWER OF ATTORNEY ACT (CALIFORNIA PROBATE CODE SECTIONS 4400-4465). IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE POWERS, OBTAIN COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE. THIS DOCUMENT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE ANYONE TO MAKE MEDICAL AND OTHER HEALTHCARE DECISIONS FOR YOU. YOU MAY REVOKE THIS POWER OF ATTORNEY IF YOU LATER WISH TO DO SO.
I, _________, residing at _________, telephone number _________, and email address _________, appoint _________ of _________, telephone number _________, and email address _________, as my agent (attorney-in-fact) to act for me in any lawful way with respect to the following initialed subjects.
This Power of Attorney shall not be affected by my subsequent incapacity.

All acts done by the Agent pursuant to a durable power of attorney during the principal's incapacity have the same effect, power, authority, and inure to the benefit of and bind the principal and the principal's successors in interest as if the principal had capacity. This power shall authorize my Agent to manage my affairs and to exercise all of my legal rights, including rights and powers acquired in the future. My Agent's authorized, but not limited to, exercise the power to:
(INITIAL each subject you want to include in the agent's general authority.)

________ Real estate transactions
________ Tangible personal property transactions
________ Stock and bond transactions
________ Commodity and option transactions
________ Banking and other financial institution transactions
________ Business operating transactions
________ Insurance and annuity transactions
________ Estate, Trust, and other Beneficiary Transactions
________ Claims and Litigation
________ Personal and Family Maintenance
________ Benefits from social security Medicare, Medicaid, or other Governmental Programs or Civil or Military Service
________ Retirement benefit transactions
________ Tax matters
This Power of Attorney shall be construed broadly as a General Power of Attorney. The listing of specific powers is not intended to limit or restrict the general powers granted in this Power of Attorney in any manner.

Any power or authority granted to my Agent under this document shall be limited to the extent necessary to prevent this Power of Attorney from causing, (i) my income to be taxable to my Agent, (ii) my assets to be subject to a general power of appointment by my Agent, or (iii) my Agent to have any incidents of ownership with respect to any life insurance policies that I may own on the life of my Agent.
RESTRICTION ON AGENT'S AUTHORITY
An agent that is not my ancestor, spouse, or descendant MAY NOT use my property to benefit the agent or a person to whom the agent owes an obligation of support unless I have included that authority in the Special Instructions.
THIS POWER OF ATTORNEY IS NOT AFFECTED BY MY SUBSEQUENT INCAPACITY.
My Agent shall not be liable for any loss that results from a judgment error that was made in good faith. However, my Agent shall be liable for willful misconduct or the failure to act in good faith while acting under the authority of this Power of Attorney. A Successor Agent shall not be liable for acts of a prior Agent.
My Agent is not entitled to any payment, during my lifetime or upon my death, for any services provided under this power of attorney, and will not be entitled to reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of acting under any provision of this Power of Attorney.
My Agent shall provide an accounting for all funds handled, and all acts performed at any time upon my request or the request of any authorized personal representative, fiduciary, or court of record acting on my behalf. If so requested, within 30 days the agent shall comply with the request or provide a writing or other record substantiating why additional time is needed and shall comply with the request within an additional 30 days.

This Power of Attorney shall be governed by the laws of the state of California. Moreover, I intend to have this Power of Attorney universally recognized and be admissible to recordation. In case that I become a resident of another jurisdiction, or obtain any form of property interest in another jurisdiction, it remains my intention that the laws of California shall continue to govern over this Power of Attorney to the extent that might be legally possible.
This Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and shall not be affected by my disability or lack of mental competence, except as may be provided otherwise by an applicable state statute. This is a Durable Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney may be revoked by me at any time by providing written notice to my Agent.
Dated __________________, ____, at _________, _________.


________________________________
_________

A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual(s) who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.


,
ss:

On ________________ before me, _________________________________, personally appeared _________, who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in his/her/their authorized capacity(ies), and that by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or the entity upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument.

I certify under PENALTY OF PERJURY under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

WITNESS my hand and official seal.


________________________________(Notary Seal)
Signature of Notary Public
Notice to Person Accepting the Appointment as Attorney-in-Fact

By acting or agreeing to act as the agent (attorney-in-fact) under this power of attorney, you assume the fiduciary and other legal responsibilities of an agent. These responsibilities include:

1. The legal duty to act solely in the interest of the principal and to avoid conflicts of interest.

2. The legal duty to keep the principal's property separate and distinct from any other property owned or controlled by you.

You may not transfer the principal's property to yourself without full and adequate consideration or accept a gift of the principal's property unless this power of attorney specifically authorizes you to transfer property to yourself or accept a gift of the principal's property. If you transfer the principal's property to yourself without specific authorization in the power of attorney, you may be prosecuted for fraud and/or embezzlement. If the principal is 65 years of age or older at the time that the property is transferred to you without authority, you may also be prosecuted for elder abuse under Penal Code Section 368. In addition to criminal prosecution, you may also be sued in civil court.

I have read the foregoing notice and I understand the legal and fiduciary duties that I assume by acting or agreeing to act as the agent (attorney-in-fact) under the terms of this power of attorney.

Date:
Signed:



_________________________________
_________
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