Uniform Power of Attorney Act

By David Carnes

A uniform law is a proposed law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, a private organization. A uniform law becomes effective only when state legislatures adopt it. As of 2011, every U.S. state except Louisiana has enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, drafted in 2006.

Power of Attorney Definition

A power of attorney is created when one person, known as the principal, authorizes another person, known as the attorney-in-fact, to perform legal acts that could otherwise be performed only by the principal. Such acts may include consenting to medical treatment, paying bills on behalf of the principal or filing the principal's tax returns. The attorney-in-fact does not have to be an attorney. Critically ill people who anticipate becoming unable to manage their own affairs often execute powers of attorney. A power of attorney must be in writing for validity.

Attorney-in-Fact Guidelines

The UPOAA clarifies duties and liabilities of attorneys-in-fact that were left unclear in the older Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act. In view of the reality that powers of attorney are often executed among family members, the UPOAA allows the attorney-in-fact to gain financially from his administration of the principal's affairs, as long as he acts diligently and competently in the best interests of the principal. His acts are subject to the judicial review of state courts, which may remove him for misconduct. If the attorney-in-fact wishes to resign and the principal is unconscious or mentally incompetent, the agent may submit his resignation to certain designated parties including a government agency responsible for the principal's well-being, for example, the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now

Protection of the Principal

A power of attorney may use either vague or specific language when outlining the authority of the attorney-in-fact. The UPOAA, however, requires the power of attorney to use specific language to grant the attorney-in-fact certain powers, such as the authority to make gifts out of the principal's assets or the authority to change the beneficiaries of the principal's will. The UPOAA contains alternative provisions concerning the specificity required for granting certain powers. These provisions allow individual states to choose which alternative to adopt.

Third Party Obligations

The UPOAA outlines circumstances in which a third party is entitled to refuse to honor a power of attorney, as well as certain duties that arise from such a refusal. A physician who refuses to honor a power of attorney, for example, must cooperate with the orderly transfer of the principal to another medical facility if the attorney-in-fact so demands, and must arrange for the transfer of medial records. Although under certain circumstances a third party may be held liable for refusing to honor a valid power of attorney, a third party may refuse to honor a power of attorney if honoring it would subject the principal to physical abuse, financial abuse or certain other harms.

Ready to appoint a power of attorney? Get Started Now
Power of Attorney & How to Sign Legal Documents


Related articles

Abuse of a Power of Attorney for an Incapacitated Family Member

A power of attorney is a legal expression of trust where a principal grants an agent the ability to legally act on her behalf. This may mean that the agent, otherwise known as the attorney-in-fact, can sell the principal’s assets or bind him to contracts. The power of an agent is even greater when she acts for an incapacitated family member. Abuse of that power is not just something that the agent can be sued for; it is also a crime. Powers of attorney are governed by state law, so standards may vary. There is an attempt to make standards regarding power of attorney consistent by getting all states to adopt the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. However, only 13 states have adopted the Uniform Act as of September 2012.

Can a Power of Attorney Deed Property to Himself?

A power of attorney is a document whereby a person, known as the principal, appoints another person, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to act on her behalf. People often refer to the agent as the power of attorney. It may be possible in certain states for an agent to convey property to herself when given express authority by language in the power of attorney. An agent should exercise caution before doing so, however, as she may later be required to prove that the conveyance was authorized and in the principal’s best interest.

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.

Related articles

Iowa Power of Attorney Rules

Many people may need to use a power of attorney at some time during their lives, either for a limited time or for an ...

Difference Between the Durable and Regular Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a means by which by one person, called a principal, authorizes another person, called an ...

Power of Attorney for Real Estate Transactions in Florida

A power of attorney document may be used in real estate transactions in Florida so that one person may sign documents ...

Durable Power of Attorney for Kentucky

A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney that becomes or remains valid when the principal goes unconscious, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED