How to Fill Out a Power of Attorney

by Anna Assad
    Power of Attorney is effective at its making.

    Power of Attorney is effective at its making.

    Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    A properly completed power of attorney form allows one person, the agent, to act in place of another, the principal. The power of attorney is a legal granting of authority from the principal to the agent. The agent can perform certain actions for the principal as defined in the signed power of the attorney itself, such as signing a real estate contract or loan documents.

    Step 1

    Locate Power of Attorney forms. These can be found online, at libraries, and at some stationary stores. Enter the full legal name of the person giving the authority on the "principal" line. Write the person's current home address after her name.

    Step 2

    Enter the full legal name of the person receiving the authority on the "agent" or "attorney-in-fact" line. Write the agent's address after his name.

    Step 3

    Read the instructions for the provisions section carefully. Power of attorney forms vary by state, as does the format for designating the agent's powers on the power of attorney form. Some forms require the principal place her initials next to each type of power she wants to give, while others require she initial and cross out only powers she doesn't want to give. Follow the instructions shown on the form.

    Step 4

    Locate the space provided for other powers not listed on the form. Insert any additional powers the principal wants to give the agent using clear wording. For example, if the principal wants the agent to be able to give cash gifts of $2,000 of less, don't just put "Give gifts" in the other powers section, as that doesn't limit the amount or type of gifts the principal can give. Use clear wording such as, "Give cash gifts of $2,000 or less only."

    Step 5

    Enter the date terms of the power of attorney. The document might have a blank space for a termination date -- a date the powers automatically expire -- or you can enter a date. Don't enter a date if the principal wants the powers to go on indefinitely; leave the area blank.

    Step 6

    Check off or mark the box that specifies when the power of attorney goes into effect. Select the "date of my signature" option if the principal wants the agent to have authority immediately. Select the "upon my disability" or "incapacitation" option if the principal only wants the agent to have authority if she's incapacitated. If selecting the "date of my signature" option, indicate whether the agent's powers end or continue if she becomes incapacitated.

    Step 7

    Complete the alternate or successor agent section if the principal wants to name a person who will become her agent if the first agent is unable to act as such. Enter the alternate agent's full legal name and address in the provided space.

    Step 8

    Ask the principal to sign and date the power of attorney document in front of a notary. Notarial services are typically available at banks and government buildings. The power of attorney must be notarized.

    Tips & Warnings

    • If listing two agents on the first agent section of the power of attorney document, select whether the agents can act alone on the principal's behalf or must always act together.
    • Making an error in the powers section can result in the agent receiving too little or too much authority.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

    Photo Credits

    • Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images