How to Write a Power of Attorney

By Beverly Bird

Although legal supply stores and websites offer power-of-attorney forms, a generic form might not suit your personal needs. A power of attorney can be almost anything you want it to be, so there’s no need to limit yourself to purchased, prewritten forms. You can write your own if you follow some basic guidelines. You might benefit from having an attorney review it after you’ve completed it, however, to make sure it adequately covers you under the law.

Step 1

Decide to whom you want to give the power of attorney. You’re authorizing someone to make many important decisions for you, and those decisions legally bind you, not him. Your agent or attorney-in-fact, the person you give this power to, should be someone you trust implicitly.

Step 2

Determine when you want your agent to act for you. If you only want him to take care of your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated, this is a springing POA. If you want to authorize him to act both now and after you become incapacitated, this is a durable POA.

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Step 3

Decide the nature of your POA. Make a list of the things you want your agent to be able to do for you, such as make health care decisions for you, manage your personal business and finances, or both.

Step 4

Write the caption of your POA at the top of a page, based on the decisions you’ve made. For example, if you want your agent to make only health-care decisions for you after you become incapacitated, write “Springing Power of Attorney for Health Care.” If you want to give him broad powers, now and in the future, write “Durable General Power of Attorney.”

Step 5

State your name and address under the caption, with a notation that you’re of sound mind. State that you’re appointing the agent you’ve selected, and include his name and address. Write specifically that you’re naming him as your “true and lawful” agent or attorney-in-fact.

Step 6

Specifically list all the things you’re authorizing your agent to do. You can copy this from the list you’ve already made and add identifying information, such as addresses of real estate you’re making him responsible for, or the numbers of accounts you’re authorizing him to manage for you.

Step 7

Insert the date on which you would like your POA to become effective. If you want it to end on a certain date, rather than be durable or springing, state this as well. Include language that specifically indicates you want your POA to be durable and last past your incapacitation, if this is what you’ve decided.

Step 8

Make signature lines, with dates, for you, your agent and a notary public. Arrange for both you and your agent to sign your POA in the presence of a notary.

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Example of a Power of Attorney Form


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How to Properly Sign a Power of Attorney Document for Someone

When someone gives you power of attorney, she is entrusting you to act on her behalf. Some powers of attorney don’t go into effect until the principal, the person granting you the power, can no longer act for herself. Others may go into effect as soon as both of you sign the power of attorney document. When you sign documents for someone else in this capacity, it’s important to make it clear that you’re acting for her, not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.

What Is a Revocable Power of Attorney Form?

A revocable power of attorney, or POA, is a legal document that appoints an agent, or attorney-in-fact, to handle transactions on your behalf. The agent can be any trustworthy person or institution you choose. Most states require POA documents to be in writing and specify certain requirements for creating and revoking POAs. Be sure your power of attorney form and any revocation you issue conforms with your state law requirements.

How to Release the Power of Attorney

Many estate planning professionals recommend powers of attorney as worthwhile tools to keep the details of your life running smoothly in the event of an emergency. You can use a power of attorney to authorize an agent -- often a loved one or another trusted individual -- to make decisions regarding your medical care or to deal with the financial details of your life should you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney grants your agent immediate authority to handle your personal affairs, such as contracting for debt in your name, as well as authority after your incapacitation. If you decide that you’ve entrusted the wrong individual with these important powers, releasing your power of attorney is a simple matter of revoking it.

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