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.

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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.

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Power of Attorney Guidelines for State of Oregon

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become incompetent of incapacitated. The Oregon Revised Statutes set forth the requirements for a valid power of attorney, who may serve as your agent and how the power of attorney may be used.

Do-It-Yourself Power of Attorney

A power of attorney grants someone else the power to perform legal acts for you, such as consenting to medical treatment or signing a contract in your name. Some states require the use of statutory forms for certain purposes, and some websites offer optional templates that you can use. You can use a power of attorney that you drafted yourself as long as it complies with state law.

Laws of Tennessee Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows an agent to make medical or financial decisions on behalf of a principal, subject to the terms of a written power of attorney authorization form. Power of attorney is governed by state law, and the laws of each state are slightly different. In Tennessee, power of attorney is governed by Section 34 of the Tennessee Code.

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