How to Get Power of Attorney in Michigan

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Get Power of Attorney in Michigan

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to grant decision-making authority to a trusted person. In Michigan, an individual with power of attorney can act on another's behalf in making financial or health care decisions. Before you start the official process of getting power of attorney, you should sit down with the other person and discuss the responsibilities, limits, and expectations of this very important role.

Young woman writing in notebook and talking on phone next to elderly woman

Durable Power of Attorney

When discussing powers of attorney, the principal is the person giving the power, and the agent (sometimes called the attorney-in-fact) is the person receiving the power. A durable power of attorney shares control of the principal's finances with the agent, and the authority remains in effect even if the principal lacks the mental capacity to make informed decisions on their own.

Granting and accepting power of attorney involve following the correct procedures during and after the drafting of the document.

1. Use clear language when granting authority and presenting stipulations.

In Michigan, the principal must designate an agent as having durable power of attorney using very clear language. The applicable Michigan law suggests clearly stating that "this power of attorney is not affected by the principal's subsequent disability or incapacity, or by the lapse of time" or that "this power of attorney is effective upon the disability or incapacity of the principal." State law does not require that exact language, but your document must obviously state that you retain the authority in question even if the principal becomes incapacitated.

2. Have the principal sign and date (or otherwise legally authorize) the POA.

Under Michigan law, the principal must sign and date a durable power of attorney. Alternatively, a notary public can sign and date a POA authorized by the principal on their behalf. The power of attorney also requires the signatures of two witnesses, notarization, or both.

3. Formally accept the power of attorney.

As of 2012, the agent must sign an acceptance acknowledging their responsibilities. Michigan Statute 700.5501 (4) provides a template for the acceptance.

4. Always act in the principal's best interest.

Michigan law outlines the duties, rights, and responsibilities of an agent under a durable power of attorney. These include acting in the principal's best interest, following the instructions of the principal, keeping the principal informed, and even—if the principal and the agent agree upon it and include it in the document—receiving compensation for accepting the responsibilities that power of attorney entails.

There is no standard form required by law for a POA as long as the document meets the state's legal requirements. A template is a good place to start, but be sure to tailor your document to fit your specific needs. Consider using an online service provider to help you draft a durable power of attorney if you have any questions about creating a valid document.

Power of Attorney for Health Care

Michigan also recognizes a health care power of attorney, also referred to as a health care proxy or a patient advocate designation. As the name implies, this type of POA gives an agent the authority to make decisions on the principal's behalf regarding their medical treatment and personal care.

Legal documents often refer to an agent with power of attorney for health care as a patient advocate. A patient advocate can only act when the principal cannot participate in their own medical treatment decisions. The process for obtaining a power of attorney for health care is the same as for a durable power of attorney. You can often obtain templates for a power of attorney for health care through your medical provider.

Using a Power of Attorney Document

Once you have power of attorney, you can sign documents on the principal's behalf.

1. Bring documentation that identifies you as having POA.

Whenever you sign something for the principal, bring a copy of your power of attorney document with you. The principal can file the power of attorney document with the appropriate institutions, but it's good practice to bring the document with you on these occasions. You should also bring a photo ID.

2. Sign using the correct procedure.

Sign the principal's name in signature form first to eliminate any confusion and make it clear that the transaction involves the principal. After you sign the principal's name, write "by" followed by your own name. Follow that with a word or phrase that shows your authority to sign, such as "power of attorney" or "attorney-in-fact."

Having power of attorney means that you can make important decisions—often financial or health care—for someone else. A durable power of attorney remains in effect regardless of whether the principal becomes unable to make their own decisions. Principals draft health care powers of attorney to grant decision-making authority to people they trust to make health care decisions for them when they no longer can. Powers of attorney carry significant responsibility; both the principal and the agent must follow the correct procedures to be sure the document is valid.

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.

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