Free Power of Attorney Form, Sample & Template Document

The first that springs to mind when someone is given powers of attorney is ‘what that is’ or ‘why me’ and ‘what will I do.’

Even though this document holds immense power over different matters, most people have no clue what it’s all about. However, reading this page will enlighten you on all matters relating to powers of attorney ensuring you know the best power of attorney form that meets your needs.

What is a power of attorney (POA)?

It’s a legal instrument that allows you to name someone you trust as the person to make the big decisions or to take action in your place when you are unable to either because of mental or physical incapacitation or if you’re out of town and you cannot act on some matters when away.

You have to sign and formalize this document when you are of sound mind and in good health, or when in control of your faculties. But in most cases, the person you select as you proxy takes action or decides in your place when you cannot. A few circumstances exist that make the document executable as soon as you sign it, your mental and physical status notwithstanding.

As mentioned above, a POA is a legal instrument. This means you need to familiarize with some of the terms used. Two of the most important being principal and the agent/ surrogate/ attorney-in-fact/ proxy or executor.

The person appointing and handing over power to the other is the principal while the appointed person or organization is the agent or attorney-in-fact. Note that the latter is not in any way related to professional lawyers. You need a power of attorney form to nominate the agent.

What makes a POA executable?

  • The legal requirements for the execution of a POA may have small differences depending on the state but, the document is legally executable only if:

    • The document is in writing and signed by the principal with at least two adult witnesses present. The witnesses should be related to the principal or each other. An agent isn’t recognized as a witness. In some states, a POA should be notarized

    • The other condition is that, at the time of signing the document, you must be of sound mind/ mentally competent and signing the document should be forced on you by others.

    • Also, the document must explicitly show the principal’s intention to delegate the powers.

    • It should also highlight if the powers are durable or not

    • Parties should be identified

    • It should be in the correct format.

What’s the importance/ purpose of a POA?

The main purpose of a POA is to protect your wishes when you’re unable to express your wishes. The powers granted using a POA can be broad or specific. This document also protects your estate and family (if any). It also prevents family disputes.

  • What can you use the POA for?

    • Making tough medical and healthcare decision including consenting to or refusing to give consent or withdrawing medical procedures, care services, and treatment

    • Buying life insurance and settling claims

    • Managing stock transactions

    • Making financial decisions

    • You can also use it to grant a non-parent authority over your child

    • Protection of personal assets and estate.

While no standard POA exists for all the states, the powers granted by the document cannot, under the law be delegated.

The powers of the document do not include the power to create, amend or even revoke a living will, the power to vote (this power goes to the guardian), or the powers to contract marriage.

  • Types of POA

    • Springing POA

The powers of attorney could be executable immediately after the document is signed (non-durable) or, as is a common arrangement for most people; only enforceable on a future date and time or when a special event occurs such as incapacitation or absence from the country. As per the latter description, the appointed agent cannot act unless an event triggers the need for their action – their powers spring from different events.

  • The springing powers of attorney are either durable or non-durable.

    • Ordinary POA

  • It’s a legal instrument appointing another as the decision maker for as long as the principal can make their own decisions and act without help. The powers of an ordinary POA terminate immediately the principal is mentally incapacitated or dead.

    • Durable POA

  • This is the legal instrument that’s enforceable even after the principal loses the ability to make decisions or when they are away. However, it’s no longer executable upon the principal’s death or if the principal revokes its power. A durable POA can be a special, general, or a healthcare POA.

    • Non-durable POA

  • This is only used for a limited period or a specific transaction. This means that the agent only gets the power to transact in your place and the powers end when the task is completed. The powers of the non-durable POA also cease to exist in the event of the principal’s incapacitation.

    • Limited/ Special POA

  • The powers of this document are used on a limited basis and for a one-time banking or financial transaction. The special powers could be granted for the sale of property or for the agent to buy or sell stocks on behalf of the principal. The powers granted cease one the task assigned is executed.

    • Medical/ Healthcare POA

  • This grants an agent the authority to make health care decisions when you’re unconscious, mentally or physically unable to make decisions. It’s not similar to a living will but, several states allow you to name your preference on matters relating to life-support.

    • General POA

This instrument gives the agent (person or organization) a broad range of powers. These powers include taking care of financial matters, settling claims, enforcing healthcare and end of life directives, making gifts, operating your business’ interests, or employing a professional. This is the most effective tool if you want someone you trust to take care of your affairs when you travel or when mentally and physically unable to act.

Revocation of Powers of attorney

The power granted to the agent are revocable if a revocation notice is issued to the agent, upon divorce when the agent is a former spouse, or if the principal expresses their intention to revoke the powers in writing or verbally with witnesses present.

Here’s the best part: thought the states come with different conditions and types of powers of attorney, you can access our free online power of attorney forms from any state. Get yours today.