Power of Attorney Forms
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person or business the power to make important decisions on another’s behalf. The individual granting permission is called the “Principal,” whereas the entity authorized to make judgments is called the “Agent.” Power of Attorneys, or POAs for short, come in several different types to account for the vast range of situations in which the document may be required. The document is commonly used by those that work in dangerous environments, are sick with a life-threatening disease, are frequently out of town from where their business operates, or want to ensure a specific person holds responsibility for a personal affair.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives those that become incapacitated (unable to make decisions regarding their health and other life matters) the power to appoint another to handle their business, private matters, or other important life decisions for the short or long term. The scope of the powers entrusted to the appointed individual (called the “Agent”) is dependent on the type of POA used, as well as the conditions contained within the document.
Power of Attorney’s by State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
How to Create a Power of Attorney
Step 1 – Determine the Type of Power of Attorney Required
Power of Attorneys come in several options dependant on their required use. The most common is the Durable Power of Attorney, which grants an Agent with power that stays in effect after the principal is incapacitated (no longer able to make reasonable decisions).
If the principal is looking for a non-durable option for assigning power over their affairs, the General Power of Attorney is recommended.
For assigning an individual power over one’s day-to-day medical decisions, treatment plans, or any decisions made in a hospice setting, a Medical Power of Attorney should be used.
If the principal only requires a specific number of tasks completed, and would like the agreement to be terminated upon completion of said tasks, a Special (Limited) Power of Attorney would serve as the most practical.
Step 2 – Select the Agent
The selection of the Agent or “Attorney-in-Fact” should be taken with care and diligence, as they will be entrusted with making decisions that could make or break the health or financial outcome of the Principal. When determining the credibility of a potential agent, the following characteristics should be present:
- Trustworthy – the agent could have access to accounts or belongings that, if stolen or shared with outsiders, could have a severe impact on the principal’s life.
- Responsible – no matter the type of POA selected, the agent will need to understand and uphold their duty to following the agreed-upon conditions contained within the document.
- Lives nearby – if the agent is going to be acting under a Medical POA, they will need to be able to head to the hospital at a moment’s notice to ensure the principal is being cared for appropriately.
Step 3 – Obtain + Complete a Power of Attorney Form
To download a Power of Attorney Form, select a state from the above list, click on the desired form type, and pick the preferred format. Then, complete the form online, or print it out and hand-write all required fields.
Step 4 – Gather Witnesses + Notarize
In some states, the signing of a Power of Attorney must be viewed by one (1) to two (2) witnesses. More often than not, the witnesses will be required to be at least eighteen (18) years of age and be mentally competent. Some states may also require the POA to be notarized by an authorized entity. Regardless of whether notarization is a state requirement, doing so can ensure the document’s validity at a later date.
Step 5 – Sign the Form
In the presence of the witnesses and notary (if utilized), the principal and agent will need to sign the form by hand in the designated fields. Once all signatures have been recorded, the Power of Attorney will go into effect (unless the document is springing – in which it will be effective at a later date).
Step 6- Save it
Store the signed document somewhere it will be kept safe, yet is readily accessible. A safe or security deposit box are popular options.
What can a Power of Attorney do?
A Power of Attorney can be used to give an agent representative authority over numerous facets of a principal’s life, making situations which previously would have required the principal to be in-person, be able to be resolved by an individual the principal trusts. A few examples of situations in which an agent can be appointed for include:
- Cash Checks
- Manage Property
- Pay Bills
- Buy / Sell things on the Principal’s behalf
- Oversee / Manage a Business
- Invest Money
- Give Gifts in the name of the Principal (Requires Special Permission)
If a Medical Power of Attorney is signed, the agent may be given the power to:
- Decide on Medical Treatments
- Make Decisions regarding Day-to-Day Routine
- Infer what the Principal would want if they were not Incapacitated
When Should a Power of Attorney be used?
Appointing an Agent to make decisions on an individual’s behalf can provide useful in a wide range of situations, including the scenarios below.
- Out of State or Country – when traveling outside of the state or country, coming back at a moment’s notice can not only be nearly impossible in certain circumstances, it can be unnecessary. For example, the owner of a property may need to collect rent or pay property taxes. Signing a Limited POA specifically outlining what the agent can do allows the property to be taken care of as if the owner was there in person. When the task is complete, the Limited POA is then terminated.
- Incapacitation – if an individual believes they will not have the capacity to make sound decisions in the near future, completing a Medical Power of Attorney allows them to assign someone they trust to make decisions in their best interest when the time comes.
How do I Revoke a Power of Attorney?
As long as the principal is considered “mentally competent,” they can revoke a Power of Attorney. This is done by completing a document called the “Revocation of Power of Attorney.” The Attorney-in-Fact is required to comply with the revocation, no matter the reason the Principal had for issuing it.