Occasionally, an individual might want to authorize another person to act on his behalf, sometimes out of convenience, for estate planning purposes, or as a protective measure in the event of incapacity. Whatever the reason, Arizona makes it easy for residents to grant such authority with an instrument known as a power of attorney. With a POA, you can give a third party the power to make financial decisions for you. The authority you give that person can be as broad or as limited as you wish.
A power of attorney is created when one person, known as the principal, authorizes an agent, or attorney-in-fact, to enter into financial transactions on his behalf. In Arizona, as in all states, powers of attorney may be either durable or nondurable. A durable POA does not terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated or can no longer make decisions for himself. The agent maintains his authority to act on the principal's behalf. You can also create a durable POA to go into effect only when you become incapable of making decisions for yourself. On the other hand, when a POA is specifically nondurable, it immediately terminates upon the incapacity of the principal. Unless your POA contains language expressly designating it as durable, it will be treated as nondurable under Arizona law. In most cases, POAs terminate upon the death of the principal; they are not substitutes for wills.
It is essential to choose an agent who is trustworthy, such as a trusted family member or friend. This is because your agent must act in your best interests and not engage in transactions that are self-serving. When deciding on what powers to grant your agent, Arizona law allows you to be as broad or as specific as you like. For instance, you might limit your agent's powers to signing Social Security checks or paying bills from a specific bank account. Or, you can give your agent broad powers such as the authority to engage in any and all financial transactions that you can enter into yourself. You can also specify that the POA will go into effect immediately, on a certain date, or upon the occurrence of a particular event.
To establish a power of attorney in Arizona, you must follow certain formalities. First, as the principal, you must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, meaning you must be mentally competent and understand what you're doing. Next, your POA must be in writing. Lastly, you must sign the POA in the presence of a notary public and one witness. The witness cannot also be the notary or the agent's spouse or child. Although it is not required, except for POAs that involve real estate transactions, you can record the document at the county recorder's office for public record.
As the principal, you have the right to revoke a power of attorney at any time. To adequately revoke your POA in Arizona, you must make your revocation in writing and deliver it to your agent. If possible, you should retrieve the original POA and destroy it. If you don't wish to draft your own revocation, you can obtain a blank revocation form from an Arizona state or county website, or from an online legal document service. You should give a copy of the revocation to any parties or businesses that had the original POA. If you recorded the POA at the county recorder's office, you must also record the revocation there.