How to Get Power of Attorney Forms

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How to Get Power of Attorney Forms

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Power of attorney forms are common estate-planning tools used to authorize someone else to handle some or all of your financial affairs. If you create these tools and later become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions, a durable power of attorney can give a loved one or other trusted individual the authority to handle your affairs without obtaining court approval to do so. You can obtain the necessary forms in several ways, including from a licensed attorney, from a legal services provider, or directly from your state.

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1. Determine your state's requirements.

State statutes authorize power of attorney forms. Many states' laws follow the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. However, a few states have enacted laws that differ in meaningful ways. Your completed document must comply with your state's specific requirements. Before creating or purchasing a power of attorney document, research whether your state requires specific language or formalities for making your forms legally valid.

2. Obtain a power of attorney form from your state.

Many states provide sample or downloadable power of attorney forms designed to comply with state-specific laws. If you believe you understand the requirements to create a valid power of attorney document and feel confident in your ability to understand the form's nuances, contact your state's Attorney General's office, your county library system, or another official state resource to obtain a blank form. After completing the form, you must meet your state's formalities by obtaining witness or notary signatures.

3. Purchase forms locally or from a reputable online legal service.

If your state does not provide sample forms, or if you prefer a more structured approach for your power of attorney form, you can also purchase a form from an office supply retailer in your state. If you go this route, plan on completing the document by hand. As an alternative, you can work with an online legal services provider to create a valid power of attorney. When you choose an online provider, you answer questions, and your answers populate the form. With either option, make sure you follow your state's required formalities to make the form legal.

4. Contact a licensed estate-planning attorney.

Finally, an estate planning attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction can also create a valid power of attorney document for you. If your situation is complex or if you have questions about the scope of your power of attorney, working with a lawyer can provide valuable peace of mind. When you work with an attorney, you can generally expect to receive a professional-looking document. In addition, attorneys usually assist with the legal formalities to make the form valid. This eliminates the need to locate witnesses or a notary public on your own.

Power of attorney forms are valuable, but they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Before you create these forms, evaluate your options for whom to name as your attorney-in-fact (your agent). Choose someone you believe will act with your best interests in mind.

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.