Is Power of Attorney in One State Recognized by Another State?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Is Power of Attorney in One State Recognized by Another State?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Power of attorney documents are created under state laws, so a durable power of attorney created in one state may or may not be valid in another state. The ultimate decision on whether or not to accept a form created in another state comes down to the financial institution or organization. The document's validity may depend on whether the states have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act or, if they haven't, on whether the form complies with the new state's power of attorney law.

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Understanding Powers Granted Under Power of Attorney Documents

Power of attorney forms are not exclusively used in an estate planning context, but they are a common tool used when planning for incapacity. These legal documents can be used to grant broad authority to one or more named agents so the named agent(s) can transact business on behalf of the person granting the powers. Powers granted can also be limited, such as only for making medical decisions or accessing a specific bank account, depending on state law.

If the person who created the form becomes incapacitated or incompetent, a validly-executed durable power of attorney document can eliminate the need for someone else to go to court to get a conservatorship over the incapacitated person's affairs.

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act

Every state has its own law governing the creation and use of valid power of attorney documents in the state.

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act of 2006 was intended to provide safeguards for persons granting power of attorney authority to others, while eliminating differences between various states' laws. As of May 2018, more than half of the U.S. states have enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

Discretion of the Person, Organization, or Government Entity Handling the Transaction

The powers granted, whether broad or limited, give the named agent(s) a lot of authority. Financial institutions, government entities, and others asked to accept an agent's authority to act under a power of attorney document could be at risk if the document is not valid.

Organizations should accept power of attorney forms validly executed under their own state's law. Similarly, organizations in states that have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act should be comfortable accepting documents created in other states with substantially the same law and execution requirements.

However, if someone was to present a power of attorney from another state and the substance of the form or the requirements to make that form legal differ from the laws of the second state, there is a chance the document may not be accepted.

Snowbirds and Other Residents of Multiple States

People who live in more than one state or who regularly travel to or transact business in other states may want to consider creating valid power of attorney documents in both states. Doing so could ensure their named agent has authority if the need to use the document arose.

A durable power of attorney can be a valuable part of your estate plan, authorizing someone else to handle your affairs during periods of lifetime incapacity. While this document is created under state law, laws vary from state to state, making it very important to consider creating a valid power of attorney for each state where you reside or transact business to ensure that your wishes are upheld.

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.