How to Obtain Power of Attorney

By David Carnes

You may face circumstances that require you to perform legal acts, such as withdrawing money from a bank account or consenting to medical treatment, on behalf of another person, known as the principal, who cannot perform these acts himself due to disability or other adverse circumstance. A valid power of attorney will allow you to perform these acts as agent for the principal without legal liability. Hospitals and banks often offer standardized power of attorney forms that have been drafted in accordance with state law. Otherwise, you may draft the appropriate form yourself.

You may face circumstances that require you to perform legal acts, such as withdrawing money from a bank account or consenting to medical treatment, on behalf of another person, known as the principal, who cannot perform these acts himself due to disability or other adverse circumstance. A valid power of attorney will allow you to perform these acts as agent for the principal without legal liability. Hospitals and banks often offer standardized power of attorney forms that have been drafted in accordance with state law. Otherwise, you may draft the appropriate form yourself.

Step 1

Discuss the situation with the principal and determine what powers he should grant you. Two types of power are commonly granted: the power to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal, and the power to manage the principal's finances.

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Step 2

Research state law to determine the requirements for a valid power of attorney. State laws differ, especially with respect to the inclusion of required statutory language and the manner in which the document must be signed.

Step 3

Entitle the document "Power of Attorney."

Step 4

Add any language required by statute. New York, for example, requires the inclusion of two passages listed in its power of attorney statute and entitled "Caution to the Principal" and "Important Information for the Agent." Pennsylvania requires the inclusion of a passage describing the powers and duties of the agent, and requires that the passage be printed in all capital letters. These passages must be word-for-word identical to the language set forth in the power of attorney statute.

Step 5

Identify the principal by his full legal name and address and state that he is the principal who is granting powers to the agent. Identify yourself by your full legal name and address and state that you are the agent to whom these powers are granted.

Step 6

State whether the power of attorney is durable or non-durable. A durable power of attorney continues in force while the principal is mentally incompetent or unable to communicate his wishes, while a non-durable power of attorney automatically lapses under these circumstances.

Step 7

Identify which powers are to be granted to you. Draft this section clearly and include no vague statements. If you include the statement "The power to manage the principal's finances," for example, a question may arise if you attempt to donate money to charity on behalf of the principal. Instead, list the specific acts that you are entitled to perform. Nevertheless, reasonably general statements are acceptable, such as "The power to consent to medical treatment or to select from among alternative medical treatments recommended by a licensed physician."

Step 8

Specify the duration of the power of attorney. You may list beginning and ending dates. You may also define the power of attorney in terms of events -- your powers may be triggered when the principal becomes incapacitated, for example, and lapse whenever he regains capacity.

Step 9

Prepare a signature line that includes places for both you and the principal to sign and date the document. If state law requires witnesses or notarization, include spaces for them to sign and date the document. Prepare the document in duplicate.

Step 10

Sign and date both copies of the document, and have the principal do the same, in the presence of witnesses or a notary public. Have the witnesses sign the document or have the notary public sign and seal it. Give one copy to the principal and keep one copy for yourself. You must present the document to third parties, such as physicians or bank officials, to exercise your powers.

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How to Draw Up Power of Attorney Papers

References

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How to Relinquish Power of Attorney

Being an agent bound by a power of attorney can be a significant burden. The amount of care you must exercise while tending to another person's affairs can be time consuming and exhausting. You may be concerned that if you do not exercise due care, you can be personally liable for monetary damages. If you do not feel capable of meeting these challenges, you have a responsibility to relinquish that authority. Powers of attorney are subject to state law. As a result, the standards on how to relinquish a power of attorney may vary from state to state.

How to Get Power of Attorney in Michigan

A power of attorney is used in Michigan to give one adult the right to handle another adult's finances. If you want to get a power of attorney from another adult, such as an elderly parent, you must comply with Michigan law, which requires that the power of attorney be in writing and signed voluntarily, and the person granting the powers must be competent when signing it. The power of attorney does not give you the right to make medical decisions, and the person who gave you power of attorney can revoke it at any time.

How to Get Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania

A power of attorney allows one person, known as the principal, to delegate to an agent the right to perform legal acts on her behalf. Such acts might include signing contracts, paying bills, consenting to medical treatment or even authorizing the withdrawal of life support in cases of terminal illness. If you have an aging loved one, you may need to get power of attorney so you can act on that person's behalf should she become incapacitated. Power of attorney is governed by state law, and Pennsylvania's power of attorney law is found in Title 20, Chapter 56 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Pennsylvania requires a power of attorney to be put into writing.

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