Uniform Power of Attorney Act

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Uniform Power of Attorney Act

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) is a model set of laws governing the creation and scope of a power of attorney. The Uniform Law Commission (ULC), a nonprofit organization comprised of attorneys and judges from all states, developed the UPOAA, encouraging the states to adopt it or some version of it. The ULC created the first version in 1969, and the most recent version went into effect in 2006.

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Key Provisions of the UPOAA

A power of attorney is a financial and estate planning tool that allows one person, the principal, to appoint another person, the agent, to act on their behalf. All states recognize these documents. States may develop their own laws governing what constitutes a valid power of attorney, its scope, and its enforcement. This means that the requirements for creating one can vary by state.

The UPOAA strikes a balance between promoting the use of powers of attorney as a cost-effective planning tool and protecting the interests of all parties involved in the relationship: the agent, the principal, and third parties presented.

A few of the key provisions in the UPOAA that help strike this balance are:

  • A power of attorney drafted before the enactment of the UPOAA remains valid as long it complies with the law of the state at the time it was drafted.
  • The agent's duties are spelled out in plain English.
  • An agent is not liable for misconduct if they make a decision that is in the principal's best interests and they also benefit.
  • Third parties do not have to honor a power of attorney if they have reported or know of a report of suspected physical or financial abuse by the agent of the principal.
  • Powers of attorney from other states are accepted as valid if they complied with the laws of the state governing their creation.
  • To be valid, a power of attorney created after the enactment of the UPOAA in the state requires the principal to sign it and acknowledge his or her signature in front of a notary public.

States that Have Adopted the UPOAA

As of November 2018, the following 26 states have adopted the UPOAA: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The District of Columbia, Mississippi, and South Dakota each introduced legislation in 2018 that, if approved, would adopt the UPOAA. Many other states have enacted power of attorney laws that are not identical to the act but are substantially similar.

With discrepancies between states, it can be difficult to determine what the best course of action should be when enforcing this document. So the UPOAA was created out of a necessity to have an essential outline that all forms must follow. The ULC maintains up-to-date information on the most recent version of the act and the states that have adopted it on its website, so you can be sure you'll have the latest set of laws to adhere to.

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.