A power of attorney is a legal document giving someone else, called the agent, the ability to act on your behalf in matters related to finance, property, or medical decisions.
As important as having a power of attorney form is having the right one, and you should know what a power of attorney is before signing. In addition, you may need more than one type of power of attorney depending on your circumstance.
Read on to see which ones are apt for you.
Table of Contents
- California Powers of Attorney
- How to Get Power of Attorney in California
Durable Power of Attorney – California
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) remains in effect even if the principal (the individual assigning the power) becomes incapacitated (say, falls into a coma or develops dementia).
This is achieved by adding a statement such as the following to the POA document: This power of attorney will continue to be effective even though I become incapacitated.
Use this type of California POA form if you want your agent (the individual receiving the power) to continue acting on your behalf even after you’ve become incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney – California
A California medical power of attorney grants the agent the power to make medical and health care decisions on the principal’s behalf (e.g., whether to end life support) when the principal is unable to do so themself.
CA Medical POA Download Options:
In California, you can also use an Advance Health Care Directive, which is durable by default. This directive combines a medical power of attorney and a living will. Visit our California Advance Health Care Directive page for more details.
General Power of Attorney – California
A general power of attorney is used to assign broad and sweeping non-medical powers to an agent.
CA General (Financial) POA Download Options:
Examples of powers you can transfer include (but are not limited to):
- Negotiate and sign contracts for purchases, such as homes or vehicles
- Handle banking transactions, including deposits and withdrawals
- Pay bills
- Buy or sell property
- File tax returns with the IRS
- Arrange the distribution of retirement benefits
- Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal) benefits
Limited Power of Attorney – California
In contrast to a general power of attorney, a limited power of attorney limits the powers assigned to an agent to a specific task (or tasks) for a specific period of time.
CA Limited (Specific) POA Download Options:
Choose this form for a single task (e.g., cashing a specific check), or for tasks that need to be performed during a short window of time (e.g., cashing your checks while you’re out of the country for a couple of months).
The above power of attorney sample is not durable. To make your limited power of attorney durable, add the following statement to the “Special Instructions” Section:
“This power of attorney will continue to be effective even though I become incapacitated.”
Real Estate Power of Attorney – California
A real estate power of attorney is a type of limited power of attorney that grants an agent powers to act solely in matters pertaining to the principal’s real property.
CA Real Estate POA Download Options:
The above power of attorney sample is not durable. To make your real estate power of attorney durable, add the following statement to the “Special Instructions” Section:
This power of attorney will continue to be effective even though I become incapacitated.
How to Get Power of Attorney in California
California power of attorney forms can be downloaded from the Sacramento County Public Law Library, but you’re not required to use these exact forms. The state only recommends that you use similar language to what is used in the official form.
The more closely a POA document is customized to your circumstance, the better it will serve you. Choose one or more of the following depending on your needs:
- the durable power of attorney template or other templates above for your non-medical needs
- the medical power of attorney template for your health care needs
- our California-specific power of attorney builder for more complex needs, such as assigning power to more than one agent (“co-agents”)
California Power of Attorney Requirements
In California, any individual 18 years or older who can read and understand a contract can create a power of attorney.
The power of attorney document must comply with regulations outlined in the California Probate Code (Sections 4000 through 4465).
For a power of attorney to be legally sufficient in California, it must:
- carry the date of execution (that is, the date on which all parties have signed the POA)
- be signed by the person seeking it (that is, the principal)
- If the principal is unable to sign, they must direct another to sign it on their behalf and watch said person affix a signature.
- notarized or signed in front of two other witnesses
A California health care directive must be signed by a notary public or signed by the principal in front of two witnesses (the two witnesses also must sign the directive). The principal’s agent, health care provider, or an employee of the provider cannot be witnesses.
While all of the above templates are customizable, it can be tedious to do so for complicated situations, such as when you want to appoint co-agents and describe how the power is split between them. Build valid POAs for such situations simply by answering a few questions in our attorney-crafted California POA builder.