Powers of attorney allow you to give someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. These documents are used for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from financial issues to health care decisions. No matter how you want to use a power of attorney, you need to make sure you draft the document correctly. Though state requirements differ, you can ensure you draft a proper power of attorney by taking the appropriate steps.
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Research state law. Each state has its own laws governing the use of powers of attorney. Depending on the state in which you live and the use for which the power of attorney is intended, you may have to include specific language or provisions.
Name the parties. Powers of attorney exist between the person giving away the power (the principal), the person receiving it (the agent or "attorney-in-fact") and third parties who act on the directions of the agent. Your POA must name the principal and the agent, as well as any alternate agents. Though you don't need to name others, some third parties may not recognise POA unless the document meets their own standards. If you want to use the POA for a specific third party, contact that party first and ask if there are any requirements your POA should include. Third parties could include banks, insurance companies and hospitals.
State the powers. Powers of attorney can allow an agent to do as much or as little as the principal desires. Make sure you list exactly what the agent can and cannot do and when he can do it.
Allow for durability. The agent's power to make decisions on behalf of the principal terminates when the principal chooses to revoke the power of attorney or when the principal becomes incapacitated. However, if durable power of attorney is granted, the agent's ability to act continues even if the principal is totally incapacitated. If you want to convey durable POA, make sure the document reflects this in clear language. If you do not want to convey durable POA, make sure the document states this clearly as well.
Sign it. POA documents must be signed by the principal. Depending on the kind of POA used and the state, it may also have to be notarised, signed by the principal or signed in the presence of witnesses. At a minimum, always have the principal sign and date the POA. The agent should sign as well.
Tips and warnings
- Talk to a lawyer. You should always consult a local attorney before attempting to draft your own POA documents. The laws governing POA can be complicated, and you need to be sure your document complies with your state's laws.
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