General Power of Attorney in Texas

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

General Power of Attorney in Texas

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

A financial power of attorney, sometimes referred to as a general power of attorney, is a legal document that gives someone the power to act on behalf of another person for financial purposes. In Texas, as in many other states, a general power of attorney serves as an important planning tool that can help ensure that a person's financial desires are carried out and obligations are fulfilled even when they cannot or do not have time to act on their own behalf.

Person going over documents

Principal and Agents

The key players involved in a power of attorney are the principal and the agents. The "principal" is the person creating the power of attorney and granting one or more individuals the power to act on their behalf. The "agents" are the individuals appointed by the principal.

The principal has a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to appointing agents. The principal can appoint a single agent or multiple agents, and they can appoint multiple agents to serve at the same time, called co-agents. The principal can decide how to resolve disagreements between co-agents and appoint successor agents who only serve if and when the original agent can no longer serve.

General powers of attorney, by default, grant agents broad rights to take actions related to the management of the principal's finances. However, principals can elect not to grant certain powers to an agent.

Impact of Incapacity

One of the most common reasons for creating a Texas power of attorney is to ensure that someone the principal trusts has the authority to manage their affairs if the principal becomes incapacitated—for example, because they are unconscious due to a serious injury or illness. In order for the power of attorney to be valid once the principal is incapacitated, the power of attorney must be durable. "Durable" is the legal term that means it continues to be effective after the principal's incapacity.

Texas law provides a form for creating a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney. If the principal completes the form properly and signs it in front of a notary or other authorized office, the durable power of attorney is valid and enforceable and will continue to be effective after the principal's incapacity.

Medical Power of Attorney

A Texas general power of attorney is not the same as a medical power of attorney, medical surrogacy, or do not resuscitate (DNR) order. A general power of attorney does not give the agent any authority to make decisions related to the principal's medical care or treatment. If you want to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf or tell your family and medical providers what actions you do or do not want them to take if you are unable to make the decisions for yourself, a health care power of attorney and living will are the documents you should look into creating.

A general power of attorney, also known as a financial power of attorney, grants someone you trust the power to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot make said decisions. Citizens of Texas who want to create a quick, easy, and valid durable power of attorney can download a form from the state's Health and Human Services website, fill it out, and sign it in the presence of a notary.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.