Power of Attorney Rules in California

By David Carnes

A power of attorney is a legal device that authorizes one person to perform legal acts -- such as signing a consent to medical treatment -- on behalf of another person. The person who grants the authority is known as the principal, and the person who exercises it is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact. California's power of attorney laws are located in sections 4000 through 4545 of the California Probate Code.


To execute a power of attorney, you must have the legal ability to enter a contract, meaning that you must be mentally competent and at least 18 years old. You must put your power of attorney in writing, sign it, date it and have it witnessed. It can be witnessed by either a notary public or two adults. Witnesses must sign the document. Your agent cannot be a witness and does not have to sign the document.

Modification and Revocation

If your power of attorney contains instructions about how it may be modified or revoked, it may be modified or revoked in accordance with those instructions. Otherwise, you may modify it by creating a new power of attorney. Your power of attorney is automatically revoked if you die, if your agent dies or becomes disabled, or when the purpose of the power of attorney has been fulfilled. Otherwise, you may revoke it by notifying your agent orally or in writing. If you lose mental capacity or become disabled, a court may revoke your power of attorney on your behalf.

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A power of attorney may be general or specific. A general power of attorney grants your agent the power to perform any legal act that you are entitled to perform. A specific power of attorney grants your agent the power to perform a specific task, such as selling your home, or to perform a specific legal act, such as signing a title deed. A durable power of attorney continues to be valid even if you become mentally incompetent or unable to communicate, while a non-durable power of attorney automatically expires under these conditions. The power of attorney should clearly specify which powers are granted and whether or not it is durable.

Third-Party Rights

If you amend or revoke a power of attorney, no third party's rights will be affected until he knows or should know of the revocation. If your agent presents the original power of attorney document to a third party, and the third party purchases your home without realizing that your agent's authority has already been revoked, your agent's signature on the purchase contract will bind you to the transaction. You may sue your agent, but you may not reverse the transaction.

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Does a Power of Attorney Need Both Signatures?

A power of attorney allows another person to step into your shoes to make medical or financial decisions for you. The rules for creating a power-of-attorney document vary among states, but all jurisdictions require your signature and some also require the signature of the person you have appointed as your agent.

Durable Power of Attorney in Missouri

Granting another person durable power of attorney allows that person to take care of your legal, financial, and medical affairs even if you become unable to take care of them yourself. Missouri law has specific requirements for creating a durable power of attorney that names someone your attorney-in-fact.

Does a Durable Power of Attorney Need to Be Notarized?

A durable power of attorney is a document signed by a person, referred to as the principal, who is appointing another person, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to sign documents or perform actions on the principal's behalf. A power of attorney is considered durable if it remains effective even after the principal becomes incompetent or unable to act for himself. This important document must be prepared in accordance with state law. A defective or incomplete power of attorney may be refused when presented for use.

Power of Attorney

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