Table of Contents
- What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?
- How to Get Power of Attorney
- Free Power of Attorney Forms
- Types of Power of Attorney
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?
A power of attorney, or POA, officially recognizes a legally binding relationship between two parties — a Principal and an Agent.
The power of attorney agent, known as the attorney-in-fact, is given the power to manage the personal, business, and/or legal affairs of the Principal. Furthermore, the Agent has an obligation to act in the Principal’s best interests and in accordance with their wishes.
Power of attorney forms are commonly used when someone wants peace of mind that their financial or health care decisions will be made by someone they trust.
Consider creating and signing a power of attorney if you are:
- Over the age of 18 years old
- Military personnel being deployed overseas
- Traveling abroad for an extended period of time
- Diagnosed with a chronic condition or life-threatening illness
- Growing older and concerned about your current health
- Married and want your spouse to have legal authority over your property
- Engaged in a high-risk profession (e.g., firefighter or police officer)
2. How to Get Power of Attorney
A simple power of attorney form makes your life easier by allowing someone you trust to take certain actions, such as managing your bank accounts and selling personal property, on your behalf. If you take the time to create a power of attorney, you’ll want to make sure that it is effective in the eyes of the law.
Here are a few steps you can take to help you get power of attorney:
- Use a state-specific form – Each state has different laws and statutes governing this document. Our state-specific forms are customized to meet the power of attorney requirements set forth by each state.
- Identify your agent – Your Agent, or attorney-in-fact, will be the person acting on your behalf and should be a responsible, trustworthy individual.
- Declare your grant of authority – Grant of authority is the general or specific authority of the Agent to take certain actions permitted by the Principal.
- Determine the effective date – Be sure to determine when the form will effectively begin.
- Make sure you have all signatures and authorizations – Some banks and financial institutions have specific requirements as to who needs to sign the document.
- Keep it up-to-date – If your state has rewritten its laws or your power of attorney is more than several years old, it may be considered “stale” and should be updated.
- Get it witnessed and notarized – Sign your power of attorney in front of witnesses, stating that you were competent and signed the document voluntarily. Be sure to get your form authenticated by a notary public to legitimize its validity.
3. Free Power of Attorney Forms
This document allows you to appoint an Agent or attorney-in-fact to make non-medical decisions for you.
If you are not sure how to customize your template, we recommend using our builder, as it will guide you through the process and ask you the questions necessary to fill out a complete power of attorney form.
Power of Attorney Sample PDF
The power of attorney sample below gives “Agent” Elizabeth Scooner the authority to make financial decisions in the event that “Principal” Jack Scooner is incapacitated. Elizabeth has the authority to deal with Jack’s property, stocks, insurance, and business.power-of-attorney-pdf-sample
Download Free Power of Attorney Templates by State
Power of attorney forms are state-dependent. For your convenience, we have gathered all 50 states’ financial POA forms (plus the District of Columbia) for you to download at no cost.
Simply click the state that you live in to download your free document.
4. Types of Power of Attorney
You can create a power of attorney for different purposes, and grant varying levels of authority to an Agent (referred to as an attorney-in-fact). You can also request your Agent to execute one specific action, or have them handle all affairs pertaining to a certain aspect of your life. Depending on your circumstances, you may want your Agent to begin acting on your behalf immediately, or at a later date.
Non-medical matters such as those related to business or your personal affairs can be covered in a financial power of attorney. Decisions related to your health care can be covered by a medical power of attorney.
There are many types of power of attorney forms you can use to protect yourself in the event something bad happens and you’re unable to make decisions.
- Financial — A financial power of attorney allows you to name an individual as your attorney-in-fact — someone who will make financial decisions or take actions on your behalf if you cannot. Your attorney-in-fact will make sure that your wishes are communicated to and taken into account by other parties.
- Medical — A medical power of attorney allows you to name your health care representative — someone who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself. Your health care agent will also ensure that your health care providers give you the medical care you wish to receive.
- Limited (Special) — A limited or special power of attorney gives an Agent the power to act on your behalf, but only for specific purposes. You can create several limited POAs with different Agents — granting each individual different powers.
- General — A general power of attorney gives your attorney-in-fact broad power to act on your behalf, taking any action or making any decision that would normally fall to you. The powers granted under a general power of attorney may be restricted by state statutes.
- Non-Durable — A non-durable power of attorney is usually limited to specific situations, and becomes effective immediately upon signing. It automatically ends when the specific situation is no longer in effect, or when you die or become incapacitated. You can also rescind it at any time.
- Durable — A durable power of attorney also becomes effective immediately upon signing. However, unlike a general power of attorney, it allows your Agent to continue acting on your behalf even if you become incapacitated. This type of power of attorney ends automatically when you die, but you can also rescind it (as long you are not incapacitated).
- Springing (Conditional) — A springing or conditional power of attorney only goes into effect if a certain event or condition occurs. It can end at a specific time, when you become incapacitated, or upon death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should be my agent?
Your Agent or attorney-in-fact (AIF) should act in your best interests and handle your personal or financial affairs.
An Agent should have the following attributes:
- Physically healthy
- Lives near you
- Sound of mind
- Financially secure
- Experienced in financial matters
- Understands your concerns, priorities, philosophies, and life values
- Strong advocate for you if professionals or institutions are unresponsive
- Willing to take on the responsibility and faithfully carry out your wishes
- Capable of handling conflicting opinions from family and professionals
Furthermore, an Agent does not necessarily have to be an individual or even one person. In fact, an Agent can be an institution like a bank. It is also possible to have co-agents, such as the Principal’s two children. If you are appointing co-agents, you should specify whether they can act independently or must act together. Be sure to clarify how disputes should be resolved if the co-agents disagree.
Who can override a power of attorney?
At any point, the Principal outlined in the power of attorney form can revoke the document. The Principal must be competent in order to override a power of attorney and the authority granted to their attorney-in-fact.
Will other states recognize my power of attorney form?
Most states will recognize any POA that is validly (legally) signed in another state. If you make a valid document while living in one state and then move to another, your form will still be valid in your new state of residence. However, it may be a good opportunity to update your document and prevent it from becoming a “stale power of attorney.”
How do I revoke a power of attorney?
If you decide you no longer want a power of attorney, you can take the following active measures to terminate it, provided you are still legally competent:
- prepare a revocation of power of attorney
- destroy the document
- follow any termination procedures detailed in the document
The document also automatically terminates when any of the following occur:
- the Principal dies
- the Principal becomes incapacitated (if non-durable)
- the Agent dies or is declared legally incompetent and no successor is named
If you decide to void a power of attorney, you should notify any banks, businesses, or other institutions that might be affected.
What happens to a power of attorney after death?
All powers of attorney end at the time of death. At that point, a last will and testament takes over. However, a durable power of attorney will effectively continue even when the Principal becomes incompetent or incapacitated, such as by falling into a coma.
Does a power of attorney need to be notarized?
State law differs when it comes to the necessary requirements for a power of attorney to be considered legally valid. It’s important to check your individual state’s legislation. That said, notarizing a power of attorney is recommended in nearly all instances where a power of attorney form is being used to handle financial matters or real-estate transactions.
Does a power of attorney expire?
The Principal can explicitly declare when their power of attorney form will expire when they create the document. If an expiration date is not set, a power of attorney form will be effective indefinitely until time of death.