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Can I Get a Power of Attorney on a Temporary Basis?

A power of attorney document is helpful for convenience or if you are incapacitated. There are several types of powers of attorney. You may want a temporary power of attorney to help you in certain circumstances.

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What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. The person who creates the document is the “principal,” and the person authorized to act on behalf of the principal is called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” There are several different types of power of attorney documents that you may consider adding to your estate plan, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

Can I Get a Temporary Power of Attorney?

Yes, you can get a power of attorney temporarily.

A temporary power of attorney (also known as a limited power of attorney or special power of attorney) is helpful in situations where you want your agent to manage your affairs for a specific and time-limited purpose.

The Difference Between Durable, Springing, and Temporary POAs

To fully understand how a temporary power of attorney functions in your estate plan, it’s helpful to know how it compares to a durable power of attorney and a springing power of attorney.

  • Durable POA: A durable POA allows you to appoint someone to make certain decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. When a power of attorney is “durable,” it may take effect as soon as the document is created and remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. A medical power of attorney (also called a health care power of attorney) allows you to give another person the authority to make important medical decisions for you (such as end-of-life medical care and medical treatment decisions). Likewise, a financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. These documents are often made durable to plan in advance for medical emergencies and cognitive decline.
  • Springing POA: A springing POA is similar to a durable POA, but instead of taking effect immediately upon signing the document, it only “springs” into action when and if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own affairs. With a springing POA, you must typically be declared incapable of making your own decisions by a doctor (or two doctors) before your agent can act on your behalf.
  • Temporary POA: A temporary POA allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf for a specific and time-limited capacity. Unlike the durable and springing POA, which remain in effect or spring into effect upon your incapacity, the temporary POA becomes ineffective the moment you become incapacitated. Instead of planning in advance for incapacity, a temporary POA lets you prepare for a temporary absence or inability to manage your own affairs.

Common Reasons To Use a Temporary Power of Attorney

A temporary power of attorney can be a helpful tool in a variety of circumstances. In general, the document is useful in scenarios where you anticipate being unable to manage your important day-to-day responsibilities for a given period of time.

Common situations that may require a temporary POA include planning an upcoming vacation abroad or a medical procedure requiring several months of recovery. Whatever the case, you can use a temporary POA to grant another individual specific powers to make decisions about your personal or professional life. For example, you may want to give your agent the authority (for a temporary period) to do any of the following:

  • Sign business documents
  • Manage your bank accounts and investments
  • Pay your monthly bills
  • File tax returns
  • Make real estate transactions and maintain your real estate
  • Make childcare decisions for your minor children, including education and healthcare decisions

Steps To Create a Temporary POA

You can create most temporary POAs online using a customizable form or template. However, each state has different legal requirements for a POA. You must make sure you use a POA form that conforms to your particular state and execute the document according to your state’s laws.

While there is no standard power of attorney form across all 50 states, you should be familiar with the general steps needed to complete the document.

Explain the Agent’s Authority

You can give your agent limited or broad powers, but it’s important that you clearly and explicitly explain what the agent is authorized to do on your behalf. Unlike a general power of attorney, a temporary power of attorney should limit your agent’s authority to whatever you write in the document.

Set the Duration

As the name suggests, a temporary POA is not designed to be permanent. You must include the effective date and duration for which your agent has the authority to act on your behalf. Depending on your situation, you may want to include a specific start and end date or state that the agent’s authority expires once the activities listed in the document are complete.

Choose a Trusted Agent

Your agent has a legal fiduciary duty to act and make decisions in your best interest. As such, the person you grant temporary power of attorney should be trustworthy and responsible. They should also be good with money if you give them the power to make your financial decisions. Whether it’s a family member, spouse, or another loved one, choose an agent you know will carry out your responsibilities according to your wishes.

Execute the Temporary POA Document

Once you’ve appointed an agent and specified the powers and duration of the agent’s authority in your temporary POA, you must execute the document according to your state’s requirements. Depending on where you live, this may mean signing the document in front of witnesses or a notary public (or both). Be sure to research the execution requirements of your state to ensure your temporary POA is valid and legally binding.

Need To Create a Temporary Power of Attorney?

Creating a temporary power of attorney is a good idea for anyone who anticipates being unable to complete their personal responsibilities for a given period. While many POA forms and templates are available online, you need to be sure you choose the right one for your state.

FindLaw’s do-it-yourself Financial Power of Attorney Form is state-specific and includes instructions for executing the document according to your state’s requirements. Through the step-by-step process, you can appoint an agent, specify the agent’s powers (i.e., business, real estate, investments, bills, taxes, etc.), and set dates for the power of attorney to begin and end.

If you still have questions about creating a temporary power of attorney, contact an estate planning attorney in your area for legal advice.

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Written by:

A. Hollyn Scott, Esq.

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

Catherine Hodder, Esq.

Senior Legal Writer