Power of attorney sometimes referred to as POA or letter of attorney, is a legal arrangement that permits a representative to act on behalf of another person. POA contracts typically are written and notarized although some states allow for verbal agreements in the presence of witnesses.
Power of attorney also comes in numerous forms, all of which can have varying legal implications in each state. In fact, the laws for this legal arrangement can differ from state to state. Before you fill out and submit a power of attorney form with an attorney or court, you would do well to find out what types of POA are permitted in your state and under what circumstances it can be implemented, changed, or withdrawn.
The question of what is power of attorney in most states can be answered in the simplest terms when defining both parties in such an arrangement. The person granting this power is called the principal or grantor. The person receiving the authorization to act on the grantor’s behalf is called the agent.
A general power of attorney can be used to allow someone to act as an agent in private affairs, business matters, or other legal capacities as determined by the grantor. It is utilized as a legal safeguard in case the grantor is not able to act in his or her own best interests due to some type of incapacitation.
Many states allow grantors to change or withdraw power of attorney as long as they are mentally and physically healthy enough to do so. In rare instances, the agent may need to challenge the grantor’s attempt to withdraw or change the arrangement because of prolonged or terminal mental or physical illness.
Before you give power of attorney to a friend, relative, lawyer, or other associate or acquaintance, you should learn first what kinds of POAs are available to you. You can also decide if this arrangement is right for you by discovering the reasons why many people give power of attorney to others.
Types of POAs
You can utilize any of the available powers of attorney options to safeguard your own best interests. The most common is a general power of attorney, which essentially permits your agent to act on your own behalf if you are incapacitated or not otherwise available to act on your own behalf.
You can typically arrange for general power of attorney by using a free online power of attorney form. Most states only require that this form is signed in the presence of valid witnesses or be notarized and filed with the appropriate parties.
As you research what is power of attorney in your state, you may also consider the durable power of attorney option. The durable power of attorney remains in effect for as long as the grantor is alive or not mentally or physically incapacitated. Once the principle becomes mentally or physically incapacitated or dies, this arrangement ceases to exist or be recognized by the state.
You also may consider a power of attorney option called springing or enduring power of attorney. Springing or enduring power of attorney can take effect as soon as the agreement is signed by the grantor.
It can also take effect upon the occurrence of some triggering event such as the grantor reaching a certain age or the arrival of a certain calendar date. It can also endure for as long as the principal sees fit to keep the arrangement intact.
Another popular option is the limited or special power of attorney. In cases of a special power of attorney, the agent can perform certain acts on the grantor’s behalf.
However, the state may require that these acts be specifically and carefully outlined in the forms and that the agent’s capacity as a representative also be clearly defined. This arrangement may go beyond an agent taking over if the grantor becomes incapacitated in some manner.
Even if you are in good health right now, you may still find it in your best interests to arrange for one of the types of power of attorney right now. You may be convinced further by realizing some of the most common reasons that people today grant powers of attorney to friends, family members, and others.
Reasons to Give Someone Lasting Power of Attorney
You never know when something will happen that could make it impossible for you to speak out or act in your own best interests. You could be fine one day and then suffer an accident, stroke, or some other type of illness that leaves you comatose or hospitalized.
When you have a lasting power of attorney agreement in place, however, you get the immediate protection you need to avoid being subject to abuse, intimidation, or other actions that work against your best interests. The agent in charge of your medical power of attorney can tell the doctors what kind of treatment you want or sign off on medical procedures like surgeries, x-rays, scans, and more.
Likewise, medical power of attorney allows the agent to okay what medicines you are given, who can come into your room to see you, and even for how long you can stay on life support. The written contract that you have with the agent should have all of these terms clarified and stipulated clearly so that your wishes are carried out even if you cannot speak for yourself at the time.
Creating powers of attorney for people whom you wish to give this authorization does not have to be a complicated or expensive process. You can find legal forms online that you can complete, sign, and have notarized at little to no cost. Many hospitals, banks, and other organizations will accept and honor these forms even if they are not prepared by a lawyer.
You can also get create power of attorney for someone by having the legal documents drafted at a law school clinic. Many law students gain experience before graduating and taking the state bar exam by helping people in the general public with such arrangements. They often provide pro bono services or charge very little for helping you create and file powers of attorney papers.
Depending on your circumstances as well as the state you live in, you may find it best to retain a probate lawyer to help you create powers of attorney papers that will be legally binding in case you are unable to act for yourself. Your lawyer can keep copies of the arrangements on file at his or her office. The other copies can be filed with your doctor’s office, local hospitals, banks, and other similar locations.
The power of attorney laws varies from state to state. Before you grant someone the authority to act on your behalf, you should learn what the laws are in your state and under what circumstances your arrangement can be implemented, changed, or withdrawn. You also can determine what kind of legal authority to give to a friend, relative, or someone with whom you can entrust your legal matters in case you are incapacitated. Once you determine what kind of POAs you want to give to your agent, you can use online forms, go to a law school clinic, or hire a lawyer to draft this legal arrangement for you.
Power of attorney gives someone the legal authority to act as your agent in legal, healthcare, and other types of matters. This setup generally goes into effect when you are unavailable or unable to act in your own interests. It may be implemented if you travel out of the country or if you suffer an illness like a stroke that leaves you unable to speak or comatose.
Each state has its own set of laws when it comes to power of attorney arrangements. Some states permit people to give this authority on a limited and very specific basis while others allow it to go into effect under less stringent circumstances.
Depending on the state you live in, the authority may need to be given in writing and notarized before it can be filed or used according to your wishes. Some states, however, permit people to give oral authorization in the presence of valid witnesses like doctors, nurses, or bank loan officers.
Setting up this arrangement is one of the easier legal endeavors and does not require a lot of time or effort. You may be able to handle it yourself by using online forms from free legal resource websites. You can also have law students at a university law clinic help you with this matter.
If you have a large amount of property at stake or unique or complicated health conditions, you may find it best to hire a lawyer to draft these documents for you. Your lawyer can ensure that the arrangement goes into effect when appropriate and that it is withdrawn when you are able to resume control over your affairs. An attorney can likewise alter the arrangement as you see fit.