A power of attorney (POA) form is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint someone they trust (an “agent”) to manage their affairs if they are unable to do so.
You can use power of attorney to have someone make legal decisions on your behalf temporarily, or to ensure choices about your money and health care are made in your best interest if you become “incapacitated” (unable to make your own decisions due to injury or disability).
If you become incapacitated without assigning power of attorney, a loved one or family member would need to obtain guardianship from a court in order to help with your affairs.
Table of contents:
- Power of Attorney Forms [Free Templates]
- What is Power of Attorney?
- How to Fill Out a Blank Power of Attorney Form
- Frequently Asked Questions About Power of Attorney
1. Power of Attorney Forms [Free Templates]
All the following POA forms are free to download and ready to print.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
2. What is Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney is the legal authority to act for someone else. An individual (the “principal”) chooses another person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to have the power to make certain decisions for them.
For example, elderly or sick parents may give power of attorney to a child or loved one, so this trusted person can carry out their financial affairs, handle estate planning, and make medical decisions if they become unable to (e.g., if they get dementia or become terminally ill).
How Do I Get Power of Attorney?
Here’s how to obtain power of attorney:
- First, the principal decides whether they want to give someone power of attorney, and if so, who do they want their agent to be. At this stage, it’s important for both parties to communicate fully, and for the principal to understand the consequences of giving legal power to a representative.
- Next, the principal defines what the power of attorney is for, and whether it is general, medical, or for specific tasks. They also need to clarify when they wish the agent to start (and stop) acting on their behalf.
- To set up power of attorney, both parties fill out a power of attorney form and sign.
Where Can I Get a Power of Attorney Form?
You can get a power of attorney form from the following places:
- your state government offices or websites (e.g., the Department of Health Services)
- your lawyer
- our selection of free state-specific power of attorney forms
- our free online power of attorney form builder
You can also pick up a power of attorney form from your local bank. Many banks and financial institutions have durable power of attorney forms available.
3. How to Fill Out a Blank Power of Attorney Form
Follow these steps to learn how to write a power of attorney form using our general/financial power of attorney document as an example, and complete all your power of attorney paperwork by yourself without hiring a lawyer:
Step 1: Designate an Agent
First, write your name and address at the top of the general power of attorney form (you are the principal). Then, write the name and address of the trusted individual you choose to be your agent/attorney-in-fact.
On this part of the form, you can also nominate a second person to be your agent if the first is unwilling or unable to.
Step 2: Grant General Authority and Specific Authority
The second part of the document allows you to choose which powers you give your agent and decide which decisions they can make for you.
First, write your initials next to the subjects you’d like to give general authority over, allowing your agent to make overall decisions on your behalf:
Next, initial the subjects you’d like to give specific authority over. This means that your agent cannot handle these important and sensitive affairs unless you initial them here:
Underneath, you can also include special instructions. For example, explaining how you want to limit the power you are giving to your agent.
Step 3: Set the Duration of Power of Attorney
Our general/financial power of attorney form lets you decide whether the power of authority stops if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions, or if it continues after.
On the form under “Termination,” choose regular (non-durable) or durable:
If the power of attorney is non-durable, you can also nominate a guardian in advance to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated. This step is unnecessary if the power of attorney is durable.
Step 4: Sign the Power of Attorney Form
The final step is to sign and date your POA paperwork.
Depending on your state, the power of attorney may need to be signed by up to 2 witnesses and/or a notary. Make sure to check the full signing requirements for your state.
4. Frequently Asked Questions About Power of Attorney
What is a Power of Attorney Form?
Power of attorney is the legal authority to make important legal decisions on behalf of another person. You can use a power of attorney form to give someone you trust this authority, and have them make decisions for you when you’re unavailable, or unable to for medical reasons.
You’ll sometimes see this form referred to as a letter of attorney, or a power of attorney letter. The abbreviation POA is also commonly used.
What are the different types of power of attorney?
The following are the different types of power of attorney:
- General (financial) power of attorney — allows someone to make financial and business decisions on your behalf
- Durable power of attorney — a durable power of attorney stays in effect even if you become “incapacitated” (for example, in a coma) and can’t make decisions yourself
- Medical power of attorney — a medical power of attorney allows someone else to make medical decisions for you
- Limited (special) power of attorney — gives power to someone to make specific decisions for you that you name on the form
- Springing power of attorney — starts and ends at a time you specify so an agent can complete a certain task
Because laws vary across the US, the type of POA you need and its format depends on where you live. Make sure to get a power of attorney form for your state.
Can I do a power of attorney myself without a lawyer?
Does a Power of Attorney Need to be Notarized?
Yes, a power of attorney needs to be notarized. In many states, a power of attorney form needs to be notarized by a notary public to be legally binding. Check your state laws to find out if your form needs to be notarized before you can give power of attorney to an agent.
How Do I Revoke Power of Attorney?
You revoke power of attorney by:
- preparing a revocation of power of attorney
- destroying the POA document (and its copies) that you wish to revoke
- following any termination procedures mentioned in the POA document
You can revoke power of attorney at any time (as long as you are legally competent). You should also notify banks, businesses, and other institutions affected by the revocation.
Does Power of Attorney End at Death?
Does Power of Attorney Expire?
Yes, power of attorney expires.
You can set the date that power of attorney finishes when completing the form. If an expiration date is not written on the document, the power of attorney expires when either:
- the principal dies
- the principal becomes incapacitated (unless the POA is durable)
- the agent dies or is declared legally incompetent and no alternate agent is named in the POA
Can a Power of Attorney be Changed Without Consent?
No, a power of attorney cannot be changed without consent. The principal must agree to change the powers given to the agent, and then create a new power of attorney.
Can a Power of Attorney Change a Will?
No, a power of attorney cannot change a will. A POA gives an agent authority to make legal decisions on behalf of the principal that are in their best interest, but it doesn’t override a last will and testament.