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How to Make a Power of Attorney in Tennessee FAQ

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq. , Senior Legal Writer
Reviewed by: Jordan Walker, J.D. , Legal Writer
Last updated May 20, 2024

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A power of attorney is helpful if you need assistance with matters you can’t handle or when you can’t manage your own financial decisions and transactions. Find out what you need to know about making a valid power of attorney document in Tennessee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

There are different types of power of attorney documents. A financial power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes someone, known as the “agent,” or in Tennessee, “attorney-in-fact,” to make decisions on behalf of another person, the “principal,” in legal and financial matters. It is helpful when you cannot manage your own affairs due to a disability or incapacity. To have someone manage your medical decisions and health care matters in Tennessee, you would name them as your agent in an advance directive for health care.

Who Can Be My Attorney in Fact?

Your attorney in fact must be 18 or older and mentally competent (meaning a sound mind). You can choose a friend, family member, lawyer, or accountant. There are many things to consider when selecting an attorney in fact. Is your attorney in fact trustworthy, responsible, and organized? It is unwise to name co-attorneys in fact because they may disagree if acting jointly or contradict each other if they act independently. You should name a primary attorney in fact and a backup or successor attorney in fact in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.

What Can My Attorney in Fact Do in Tennessee?

You decide what powers you want to grant your attorney in fact. Under Section 34-6-103 of Tennessee’s Uniform Power of Attorney Act, you can give your attorney in fact the power to:

  • Perform any act that you could do
  • Handle bank account transactions
  • Handle real estate and personal property transactions
  • Handle tax matters
  • Handle insurance transactions
  • Manage personal and family maintenance
  • Safe deposit box transactions
  • Handle government obligations
  • Employ agents and advisors (i.e., attorneys, accountants)
  • Buy bonds to be redeemed to pay estate taxes
  • Borrow money on your behalf
  • Handle bank and financial investment accounts
  • Handle investment transactions
  • Handle business transactions
  • Handle club dues or charitable pledges
  • Make transfers to revocable trusts
  • Handle claims and litigation in connection with this power of attorney
  • Have your attorney in fact reimburse themselves for reasonable costs
  • Handle employee benefit and retirement plans
  • Execute other required power of attorney forms
  • Request and receive your personal and medical information
  • Make funeral and burial arrangements
  • Access your digital assets

Some principals want their attorney in fact to have the authority to reduce their estate to minimize estate taxes or qualify for governmental benefits such as Medicaid. In that case, they must expressly authorize their attorney in fact to have the specific power to:

  • Make a gift from your assets
  • Change your rights to receive trust income
  • Exercise fiduciary powers that you can delegate
  • Handle life insurance policies owned by you on the life of your attorney in fact
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Refuse an interest in property you might receive

Your attorney in fact has a broad range of control once you grant them a power so carefully consider what you want your attorney in fact to do.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in Tennessee?

durable power of attorney in Tennessee remains in effect even if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions. To make your power of attorney durable, you must include the words “This power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal,” or “This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability or incapacity of the principal,” or some similar language to show your intent.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

You decide when you want your power of attorney to be effective. You can make it effective immediately when signed or when a specific date or event occurs, for example, upon your incapacity. You must state the effective date in your power of attorney.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

The power of attorney ends when the principal revokes the power of attorney or one of the following occurs:

  • The death of the principal
  • The attorney in fact dies, resigns, or is incapacitated, and there is not a backup attorney in fact
  • The principal is incapacitated (if the power of attorney is non-durable)
  • The power of attorney has a termination date or termination event, and that event occurred
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is achieved
  • A court revokes the attorney in fact’s authority

Additionally, your attorney in fact’s authority is immediately terminated if they are your spouse and you divorce or legally separated from them. It is a good idea to always name a backup attorney in fact in your power of attorney document.

Does Tennessee Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

No. Tennessee does not provide a statutory form for power of attorney. However, your power of attorney must follow the legal requirements set forth in the Tennessee Code. You can either create your power of attorney document tailored to your needs or hire an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Own Power of Attorney in Tennessee?

Yes. If you know who you want as your attorney in fact and what powers you want to grant them, you can make your own power of attorney document with online estate planning forms. Make sure you use state-specific forms conforming to Tennessee law. You don’t have to use an attorney, but if you have questions about powers of attorney, you may want to consult them for legal advice.

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

You must be 18 or older and competent to make a power of attorney. Your power of attorney must be in writing and signed by you. It is also a good idea to have a notary public attest to your signature.

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

Tennessee does not have a specific requirement to notarize your power of attorney. However, your power of attorney may be questioned by third parties, such as banks and financial institutions, if it lacks a notary attesting to your signature. A bank or third party may want proof that your signature is genuine and may hold up your power of attorney without it. It is best to have your signature notarized on your power of attorney.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

After you sign and notarize your power of attorney, you should give copies to your attorney in fact and any third parties you want your attorney in fact to deal with. Additionally, a bank may want your attorney in fact to complete an Agent Certification form in which they certify that the POA is effective and they have the authority to act for you.

Does an Attorney in Fact Get Paid in Tennessee?

Your attorney in fact may receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses if you grant it. However, your attorney in fact may also be entitled to reasonable compensation for their time unless you state otherwise in your POA.

Is My Tennessee Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Generally, a valid power of attorney created and executed according to Tennessee law is recognized in another state.

Can I Revoke My Tennessee Power of Attorney?

Yes. If you are mentally competent at the time, you may revoke your power of attorney. To revoke a power of attorney, you make a written statement known as a “Revocation of Power of Attorney,” revoking your power of attorney and your attorney in fact’s authority. Sign your document in front of a notary and give copies to your attorney in fact and to all third parties that have your original power of attorney document.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Tennessee?

A power of attorney is a helpful document when you can’t manage your finances due to incapacity or other disability. However, there are two other estate planning documents to consider for a complete plan:

An advance directive for healthcare is a legal document that lets you name an agent to access your medical records and make healthcare decisions on your behalf. It may also be called a medical power of attorney or a living will. You can also state what instructions on life-prolonging measures you want or do not want when you have an end-stage illness or terminal condition.

last will and testament is a legal document that lets you name someone to manage your estate, list beneficiaries to inherit your property, and name guardians to care for your minor children. If you don’t make a will, you die “intestate,” and a probate court sorts it out. Having a will streamlines the probate process so it your loved ones don’t spend a lot of time and money in court.

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

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