A Power of Attorney (POA) form is a legal document that lets you appoint someone you trust, called your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to manage your affairs if you’re unable to do so.
You, the “principal”, specify in the form what kinds of actions your agent can take on your behalf, such as selling property, depositing checks, or filing taxes. You also decide whether your agent can start acting on your behalf immediately or only if you become incapacitated (unable to make your own decisions due to injury or disability).
To give an agent authority to manage your health care decisions if you become incapacitated, use our medical power of attorney forms instead.
POA Forms – By Type
In most cases, you’ll need to download a state-specific form so you can ensure your POA follows all your state’s requirements (otherwise, it won’t be legally binding).
For the Financial Power of Attorney document, find your state form below:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
If you’re still figuring out what type of Power of Attorney you need, take a look at one of the generic templates below to get you started.
What is Power of Attorney?
Power of Attorney (POA) refers to the legal authority to act for someone else in certain personal affairs and the name of the legal document that gives the authority to someone else.
An individual (the “principal”) chooses another person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make certain decisions on their behalf and fills out the Power of Attorney paperwork with important details about the agent and what actions they may take on behalf of the principal.
For example, elderly or sick parents may create this document for a child or loved one so they 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).
If you become incapacitated without designating a principal, a loved one or family member may need to get legal guardianship from a court in order to help with your affairs. 
How Do I Get Power of Attorney?
Here’s how to obtain a Power of Attorney:
- First, the principal decides whether they want to give someone power of attorney, and if so, who they want their agent to be. At this stage, it’s essential 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 scope is, 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.
- In order for the document to take effect, the principal needs to fill it out and sign it.
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)
- our free online POA form builder
- have a lawyer draft one for you
You can also check with your local bank. Many financial institutions have powers of attorney available.
How to Write a Power of Attorney Form
Follow these steps to learn how to write a Power of Attorney form using our general/financial template as an example, and complete all your paperwork by yourself without hiring a lawyer:
Step 1: Designate an Agent
First, write your name and address at the top of the document (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 fulfill their duties.
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 critical and sensitive affairs unless you initiate them here:
Underneath, you can also include special instructions. For example, you can explain 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 POA 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 non-durable or durable POA:
If a 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 form is durable.
Step 4: Sign the Power of Attorney
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 complete signing requirements for your state. 
Frequently Asked Questions About Power of Attorney
The following are the different types of Power of Attorney:
- General (financial) — allows someone to make financial and business decisions on your behalf
- Durable — goes into effect if you become “incapacitated” (for example, in a coma) and can’t make decisions yourself.
- Medical — allows someone you choose to make medical decisions for you.
- Limited (Special) — gives power to someone to make only the specific decisions you name on the form.
- Springing — starts and ends when you specify so an agent can complete a specific 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 form specific for your state.
Yes, you can do a Power of Attorney yourself. As long as you use a form that meets your state’s requirements, you can complete it yourself and create a legally-binding document without hiring a lawyer. You can also use our online free step-by-step document builder.
Yes, in most cases, a Power of Attorney needs to be notarized. In many states, this document needs to be acknowledged by a notary public to be legally binding. Check your state laws to find out if your form needs to be notarized.
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 (as long as you never gave copies to anyone or told your agent)
- following any termination procedures mentioned in the POA document
- creating a new Power of Attorney that revokes the previous
You can revoke the document at any time (as long as you are legally competent). You should also notify the old agent and any banks, businesses, and other institutions affected by the revocation.
Yes, Power of Attorney expires.
You can set the date the Power of Attorney expires when completing the form. If an expiration date is not written on the document, the document 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
No, a Power of Attorney cannot be changed without the consent of the principal. The principal must agree to change the powers given to the agent and then create a new form.
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 is in their best interest, but it doesn’t override a last will and testament.