How to Write a Free Durable Power of Attorney

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

How to Write a Free Durable Power of Attorney

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

A durable power of attorney (POA), also referred to as a power of attorney with durable provisions, allows the agent you name to make a variety of decisions for you. The word “durable" indicates that the agent's powers apply even if you are incapacitated.

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Writing your own durable power of attorney is an inexpensive way to deal with end-of-life decision-making because it allows you to appoint a person to make decisions for you after you are incapacitated or legally incompetent. The main aspects of your life that an appointed agent can oversee with a power of attorney are your finances and healthcare matters. With this POA, you can choose to have an agent oversee all of your financial and healthcare matters, or just some of them. The agent does not need to be in charge of all financial obligations.

Research Your State's Requirements

The basic requirements for a legally binding durable power of attorney are similar throughout the country, but some states require more evidence, such as the signatures of witnesses present during the execution of the document. Generally, witnesses must be 18 years of age or older and unrelated to the person executing the power of attorney. The person named as agent cannot be a witness.

Some states require notarization of the signatures on the durable power of attorney. A notary must actually witness the signatures they certify; they cannot notarize a previously signed document.

Draft the Durable Power of Attorney

The durable power of attorney must be typed or in writing, and it must include the date and your full name. It must clearly state that the document is your durable power of attorney and that you understand that the powers given apply if you are incapacitated.

Name the individual to whom you want to give power of attorney. Use identifying information to make the identity of that person clear to any reader. Include their address, relationship to you, phone number, or email address. Also specify whether the durable power of attorney applies to financial decisions, health care decisions, legal decisions, or all three areas.

Include any instructions you would like to leave for your agent. For example, if your agent will make health care decisions, provide instructions regarding life-saving measures. Your agent makes the ultimate decision, but telling them your wishes provides guidance. In the absence of instructions, the agent uses their judgment.

Execute the Durable Power of Attorney

After you draft the durable power of attorney, you must sign and date the document. Again, make sure you comply with the requirements in your state. Provide the signatures of witnesses and notarization, if required.

You can draft a durable power of attorney by writing out or typing the document, which should include the date, your full name, and speech that clearly identifies the document as a durable power of attorney that applies even in the case of your incapacitation. Name the individual who will be your agent, receiving the durable power of attorney, and specify which powers the agent will have. Execute the document legally by dating it, signing it, and complying with the requirements of your state.

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.