How to Write a Special Power of Attorney Letter

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Write a Special Power of Attorney Letter

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Writing a special power of attorney letter is fairly straightforward, but because it is such a significant document, you must ensure that it is drafted correctly.

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A special power of attorney is a written authorization granting another person or professional—also known as an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact"—the authority to act on your behalf under certain circumstances. The most common reason a person establishes a power of attorney is for financial or health matters. For example, you may want to create a power of attorney that grants your spouse the authority to make decisions on what type of medical care you receive should you ever become incapacitated.

Granting someone a power of authority does not take away your ability to make decisions for yourself. In fact, if you and your agent disagree on a decision, you have the final say. Consider seeking legal guidance to help you save time in this process, or follow these steps to write a special power of attorney on your own.

1. Draft a list of special powers.

The first step to writing a special power of attorney is to come up with a list of each special power you want to assign. Because special powers are meant to be precise, you must explicitly state the transactions, accounts, or property that your agent has authority over. For example, as opposed to a general power of attorney—which may allow your agent to handle all of your financial transactions—a special power of attorney may only allow your agent to handle the sale of a specific piece of real estate.

2. Decide what powers are springing.

A "springing" power is contingent, meaning that it is not triggered until an event or other condition is satisfied. Thus, an agent cannot legally act on your behalf regarding a springing power until that event or condition occurs. Your special power of attorney does not need to include a springing clause. If it doesn't, the power of attorney is enforceable immediately after you sign it.

3. Pick an agent and a successor agent.

One of the most important steps in writing a special power of attorney is to assign your agent. Your agent should be someone you trust, whether it be a close family member, friend, or professional. It is also a good idea to assign a successor agent in the event the original agent dies or is otherwise no longer able to handle your affairs.

4. Note the expiration date.

If you want your power of attorney to only last for a certain period of time, make sure you explicitly write that in your letter. If you want it to last for as long as you are alive, you can create a durable power of attorney, which remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. Regardless of which type you choose, the power of attorney terminates upon your death.

5. Compile the information into one document.

Using all of the information you just compiled, draft the final special power of attorney letter. Use clear and unambiguous language to outline the details of each special power. You should include your full name, the full names of your agent and successor agent, and the date you created the document.

6. Execute the power of attorney letter.

At a minimum, you must sign the power of attorney in the presence of a notary for the document to be legally enforceable. Some states may require additional formalities. Once the document is executed, the power of attorney is complete.

While you can definitely draft a power of attorney on your own, you can also enlist the help of a professional if you have any doubts about the process.

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.