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How To Make a Power of Attorney in Iowa FAQ

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq. , Senior Legal Writer
Reviewed by: Jordan Walker, J.D. , Legal Writer
Last updated May 15, 2024

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A power of attorney helps you put someone else in charge when you can’t manage your own affairs. But what do you need to consider before making a power of attorney? Learn about power of attorney documents and how to create a valid power of attorney in Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) in Iowa is a legal document that allows a “principal” to appoint an “agent” or “attorney in fact” to act on behalf of the principal. Chapter 633B of Title XV, Subtitle 4, of the Iowa Statutes covers Iowa’s laws regarding powers of attorney.

Different types of powers of attorney handle specific areas. A financial power of attorney allows your agent to handle legal and financial affairs for you when you can’t due to a disability or incapacity or even for convenience, such as being out of town. A healthcare power of attorney, called a durable power of attorney for health care in Iowa, allows your agent to manage your medical information and make healthcare decisions for you when you cannot.

A key benefit to having a power of attorney is that you decide who is in charge of your life. If you are suddenly incapable of managing your affairs, your family members may have to go to court for conservatorship. The court appoints someone as a conservator with the legal authority to handle your legal and financial decisions, and you may not like who they choose. Your power of attorney avoids the need to spend time and money in court for a conservatorship.

Who Can Be My Agent?

In Iowa, any competent adult can serve as your agent. That could be a family member, friend, accountant, or attorney. However, your agent cannot be your healthcare provider or an owner, operator, or employee of a healthcare facility where you are receiving care unless that person is related to you.

When choosing your agent, you want someone trustworthy, organized, and responsible. They have a fiduciary duty to act in good faith and in your best interest, but they also have broad control over your money and property.

Avoid using co-agents because your agents may disagree or they may contradict each other’s actions. It is better to name one as your primary agent and another as your backup or successor agent if your primary agent is unavailable.

What Can My Agent Do in Iowa?

Your agent can do anything you give them the power to do, such as paying bills, accessing bank accounts, managing your property, and making financial decisions. Under §633b.204 through §633b.217, you can give your agent the general authority to handle transactions for the following:

  • Real property (real estate)
  • Tangible personal property (personal possessions)
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Commodities and options
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Operation of entity or business
  • Insurance and annuities
  • Estates, trusts, and other beneficial interests
  • Claims and litigation
  • Personal and family maintenance
  • Benefits from governmental programs or civil or military service
  • Retirement plans
  • Taxes
  • Gifts

However, there are powers that you may or may not want to grant to your agent. These powers may allow your agent to reduce your estate. You may want your agent to reduce your estate in order to qualify you for government benefits such as Medicaid. Under §633b.201, you must expressly grant the following specific powers to your agent:

  • Create, amend, revoke, or terminate a living trust
  • Make a gift
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Waive the principal’s right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan
  • Exercise fiduciary powers that the principal has authority to delegate
  • Disclaim property, including a power of appointment

Think carefully about your situation and what powers you want your agent to have. Talk to your agent about how you want them to manage your property and assets.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in Iowa?

In Iowa, a durable power of attorney remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated, meaning it allows the agent to continue making decisions for the principal if the principal is unable to do it themselves. Under §633b.104, a power of attorney is durable unless the document expressly provides that the incapacity of the principal terminates it.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

Under §633b.109, a power of attorney is effective when signed unless the principal provides in the power of attorney that it becomes effective at a future date or upon the occurrence of a future event or contingency. For example, you can make your POA effective upon your incapacity, which is called a “springing” power of attorney.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

Your power of attorney ends when you revoke your power of attorney, or you die. There are other circumstances when your power of attorney ends, such as:

  • Your agent dies or is unable to serve, and you do not have a backup or successor agent.
  • You are incapacitated, and your power of attorney is non-durable.

Additionally, the agent’s authority automatically ends when:

  • The principal revokes the agent’s authority.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns.
  • The agent is the principal’s spouse, and there is an action for the dissolution or annulment of the marriage unless the power of attorney otherwise provides it.
  • The power of attorney terminates.
  • The agent is named as having abused the principal in a founded dependent adult abuse report.
  • The agent is convicted of dependent adult abuse for having abused the principal.

That is why it is a good idea to name backup or successor agents to your power of attorney.

Does Iowa Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

Yes, Iowa provides a statutory form for a power of attorney under §633B.301. However, Iowa does not require you to use their form. You can either create a power of attorney on your own or hire an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Own Power of Attorney in Iowa?

Yes. In Iowa, you must be 18 or older and mentally competent. When making your power of attorney, you should know who you want to name as your agent and what authority you want to give them. Many people looking for do-it-yourself solutions use an online power of attorney form. If you have questions about making a power of attorney, consider consulting an estate planning attorney for legal advice.

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How Do I Make My Power of Attorney Valid in Iowa?

Under Iowa execution requirement §633B.105, you must sign your document or direct someone to sign it for you in your conscious presence. A notary public must also attest to your signature.

Do I Have to Notarize My Power of Attorney in Iowa?

Yes. In Iowa, a notary must acknowledge your signature on the power of attorney.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

After you sign your document, keep the original in a safe place. Give copies of your POA to your agent and any third parties that you want to notify of your power of attorney. A bank or financial institution may ask your agent to sign an agent certification form in which your agent certifies that the power of attorney is effective and that they have the authority to act as your agent.

Does a Power of Attorney Agent Get Paid in Iowa?

In Iowa, your agent may receive reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred under your power of attorney. Your agent may also receive reasonable compensation unless your power of attorney states otherwise.

Is My Iowa Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Generally, other states will honor a power of attorney that is created and executed in Iowa according to Iowa law.

Can I Revoke My Iowa Power of Attorney?

Yes. If you are mentally competent, you may revoke your power of attorney whenever you want. Make a written statement of revocation and give it to your agent and all parties who have your original. You should also destroy your original POA.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Iowa?

A financial power of attorney is a helpful document if you have a sudden incapacity and can’t make your own decisions. Other estate planning documents, such as durable power of attorney for healthcare and a last will and testament, complete your estate plan.

In a durable power of attorney for healthcare, you can authorize someone to handle your healthcare, speak with attending physicians, and make medical decisions for you when you can’t. You can also leave instructions for treatments and what life-sustaining procedures you want if you have an end-stage or terminal illness, called a living will or advance directive.

In a last will and testament, you name a personal representative to administer your estate, name those you wish to inherit your property, and name a guardian to care for your minor children. If you die “intestate,” meaning without a will, the court follows state laws for property distribution. They also decide who will care for your children. With a will, you have peace of mind that your property and your family will be handled in accordance with your wishes.

Fortunately, in Iowa it is easy to create a valid power of attorney and other estate planning documents using online estate planning templates.

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