A power of attorney is a powerful legal device that allows a person, known as the principal, to delegate the power to perform legal acts on his behalf to you, the agent. The principal may authorize you to perform any legal act that he is entitled to perform himself, or he may authorize you to perform a specific task, such as paying his bills while he is ill. Indiana state law governs the form, content and effects of a power of attorney executed by a principal who is an Indiana resident.
Determine the powers to be delegated by the principal. Most powers of attorney delegate to the agent the authority to make financial or health-care decisions on behalf of the principal. If you require both types of authority, however, Indiana law requires you to use two separate authorization forms.
Obtain a power of attorney authorization form that complies with Indiana law. Many hospitals and financial institutions offer such forms. Alternatively, draft your own form. The form should include the names and addresses of the principal and the agent, a statement that the principal is authorizing the agent to perform legal acts on the principal's behalf, an explanation of the specific powers granted, the beginning and ending dates of the agent's authority, and the amount of any compensation that the principal may provide you in exchange for your services. Instead of specific beginning and ending dates, you may use events to trigger the beginning and end of your authority -- a power of attorney may arise, for example, when the principal becomes mentally incapacitated due to illness, and automatically expire if the principal regains mental capacity.
Sign and date the authorization form in the presence of a notary public, and have the principal do the same. The notary public will sign and seal the form after verifying your identities. Although Indiana law does not require you to sign the authorization form, your signature will help establish your authority to third parties.
Copy the authorization form and give it to the principal. Keep the original for yourself, because third parties might be reluctant to honor your authority based on a photocopied authorization form.
Present the authorization form to third parties whenever you need to perform legal acts on behalf of the principal. Depending on the nature of your authority, such third parties may include doctors, banking officials or government officials. Third parties are not legally required to honor a power of attorney.
- Government-issued photo ID
Tips & Warnings
There is no such thing as an irrevocable power of attorney. The principal may revoke a power of attorney at any time, as long as he is mentally competent and able to communicate.
References & Resources
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images