General Power of Attorney in Texas

By Beverly Bird

A general power of attorney is an all-encompassing document in Texas. It allows someone else, called your "agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to handle all your personal affairs without limitation. The individual you select does not have to be a lawyer; she can be your spouse, another relative or your best friend.

Legal Requirements

Your power of attorney can only authorize your agent to act on your behalf if you have your signature notarized. Texas does not require that you have the signatures of witnesses in addition to that of a notary. Your agent is not required to sign your GPOA. You don't have to file your power of attorney with the court. However, if you're entrusting your agent to buy or sell real estate for you, you do have to record the power of attorney with the clerk in each county where the property is located.

Format

Texas does not have a statutory form you must follow to write a general power of attorney; there are no precise format or language requirements. However, it’s important to include your name as it appears on your accounts, your address, and the identity of the individual you’re naming as your agent. Because you’re giving her general, not limited, power of attorney, state that she has “full power and authority” to do anything you can do yourself. You can itemize a list of her powers if you like, but you run the risk of excluding her from doing something you might forget to mention.

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Scope

A general power of attorney is not the same as a health care power of attorney, which Texas recognizes also. The latter allows your agent to make only medical decisions on your behalf. A GPOA does not usually authorize your agent to make health care decisions; it empowers her to deal with all your financial and personal business interests. Section 4898 of the Texas code requires your agent to keep a record of and report to you all actions she takes on your behalf.

Duration

Your power of attorney terminates when and if you become mentally incapacitated unless it specifically states that you’re appointing your agent to act on your behalf then as well. Such language makes it a "durable" power of attorney. You can also state that you don’t want your power of attorney to go into effect unless you become incapacitated. This is a “springing” GPOA. Regardless of the type of power of attorney, your death rescinds your agent’s power to handle your affairs.

Incapacity

If your GPOA is springing, Texas requires that your agent have authorization to begin her duties. Written confirmation from your doctor usually suffices, but check with a professional when you write your document if you want her to provide more proof than that or want to waive the requirement entirely.

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How to Write a Power of Attorney

References

Related articles

How to Fill Out a General Power of Attorney

You must fill out a general power of attorney correctly. If you make mistakes, you might give your agent powers you don't want her to have, omit powers you do want to give her or end up with a useless document. You are the principal, the person giving authority, and your agent is the person you're allowing to act in your place. A general power of attorney allows your agent to act for you in various matters, including bank transactions and property sales. You can get a fill-in general power of attorney form at an office supply store or legal document store in your area. The fill-in form already has all the words your state requires for a valid power of attorney.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Power of Attorney?

While a power of attorney can be useful, you should consider some of the disadvantages of giving another person authority to act on your behalf. Giving power of attorney to a person you trust allows her to engage in actions and complete transactions for you. Your agent may do whatever you authorize her to do through your power of attorney document, including your banking transactions.

Full Power of Attorney Definition

When you grant someone power of attorney, he becomes almost like a legal clone who can stand in for you in certain instances. He can make binding decisions that otherwise only you could make. Because this has serious implications, the law allows you to specify exactly what you’re empowering this individual to do on your behalf. When you don’t limit his powers or the circumstances under which he can use them, you’ve given him a full power of attorney.

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