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How To Make a Power of Attorney in Wisconsin 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 lets you put someone else in charge of your financial affairs when you cannot. Learn about Wisconsin power of attorney documents and how to create one according to Wisconsin’s state laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document where you, as the “principal,” name someone to act on the principal’s behalf as your agent. You decide what authority to grant your agent. There are different types of power of attorney documents. A financial power of attorney is for when you cannot handle your financial life due to a disability or incapacity. Without a power of attorney, your family will have to petition a court for conservatorship. A court will appoint someone as your conservator with legal authority to manage your financial and legal matters. For health care decisions, you may want an advance directive for health care where you name an agent to make decisions and detail wishes for your care.

Who Can Be My Agent?

You can choose anyone you want to serve as your agent if they are 18 or older and mentally competent. You may select a family member, friend, accountant, or attorney. Make sure they are trustworthy, organized, and responsible. Your agent has a fiduciary duty to act in good faith for your benefit, but they have significant control over your money and life.

While you may want to name two agents in your power of attorney, avoid using co-agents because they complicate things. If your agents must act jointly, they may disagree. If your agents can act independently, they may contradict each other and confuse third parties.

What Can My Agent Do in Wisconsin?

You decide what you want your agent to do under your power of attorney for finances. Typical tasks are paying bills, filing tax returns, managing real estate, and making financial decisions. Under Wisconsin statute §244.43, you can grant your agent general authority to handle the following:

  • Real property (your real estate)
  • Digital Property
  • Tangible personal property (your 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

Under §244.21, there are certain powers that the principal must expressly authorize because they allow your agent to reduce your estate including:

  • Create, amend, revoke, or terminate a living trust
  • Make a gift
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Delegate authority granted under the power of attorney
  • 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
  • Access the content of an electronic communication

You may want your agent to reduce your estate to qualify for government benefits like Social Security or Medicaid or to minimize estate taxes. These are broad powers over financial matters, so think carefully about what powers you want to give your agent.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin?

durable power of attorney in Wisconsin remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. Under §244.04, a power of attorney is considered durable unless it explicitly states that it terminates upon the principal’s incapacity.

When Is the Power of Attorney Effective?

A Wisconsin POA is effective immediately upon signing by the principal under §244.09. However, you can make it effective at a future time or future event (such as the principal’s incapacity), called a “springing” POA.

When Does the Power of Attorney End?

There are events when your power of attorney ends and when your agent’s authority automatically terminates. A power of attorney ends when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapacitated, and the POA is non-durable.
  • The principal revokes the power of attorney.
  • The power of attorney provides that it terminates.
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished.
  • The principal revokes the agent’s authority, or the agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns, and the power of attorney does not have a backup or successor agent.

Your agent’s authority terminates when:

  • The principal revokes the authority.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns.
  • Your agent is your spouse, and the marriage ends in divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
  • The power of attorney terminates.
  • Your agent is your domestic partner, and the domestic partnership ends.

That is why it is best to name backup or successor agents if your primary agent is unable to serve or their authority terminates.

Does Wisconsin Have a Statutory Power of Attorney?

Yes. The state of Wisconsin has a statutory power of attorney form under §244.61. However, you do not have to use their statutory form as it is challenging to customize. There are other options for a Wisconsin POA. You can either create a power of attorney document tailored to your needs or hire an estate planning attorney.

Can I Make My Own Power of Attorney in Wisconsin?

Yes. If you are 18 or older and mentally competent, you can make your own power of attorney. If you know who you want to be your agent and what powers you want to give them, you are ready to make a power of attorney. Make sure to use forms that conform to Wisconsin law and follow the state requirements for signing. Many people use state-specific online estate planning forms that they customize for their situation. However, if you have questions about making a power of attorney, you should consult an estate planning attorney for legal advice.

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

To make a valid power of attorney in Wisconsin, you must sign the document or direct someone to sign it in your presence. A notary public must also acknowledge your signature per §244.05 of the Wisconsin statutes.

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

Yes. For a valid power of attorney, a notary must acknowledge the principal’s signature on the document.

What Should I Do After Signing My Power of Attorney?

Once you sign your power of attorney in the presence of a notary, give a copy to your agent, successor agents, and any third parties that you want to notify of the POA. Keep your original in a safe place. A third party, such as a bank, may ask your agent to complete an agent certification form in which your agent attests that the power of attorney is effective, and they have the authority to act on your behalf.

Does a Power of Attorney Agent Get Paid in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, your agent may receive reimbursement of reasonable expenses for acting under your power of attorney. They may also be entitled to reasonable compensation for their time unless you state otherwise in your power of attorney.

Is My Wisconsin Power of Attorney Valid in Another State?

Yes. Under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, a power of attorney created and executed in Wisconsin according to the laws of Wisconsin will be recognized in other states.

Can I Revoke My Wisconsin Power of Attorney?

Yes. You have the right to revoke power of attorney at any time, as long as you are competent. This “Revocation of Power of Attorney” should be in writing. Give copies to your agent(s) and any third parties who have received your POA.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Wisconsin?

A financial power of attorney is helpful and avoids conservatorship when you suddenly can’t handle your affairs. Other estate planning documents, such as a power of attorney for health care and a last will and testament, make a complete estate plan.

A power of attorney for health care, or health care directive, incorporates a medical power of attorney and a living will or advance directive. You authorize a healthcare agent to receive your medical records, talk to healthcare providers, and handle your medical decisions. You can express your wishes for the medical treatments or life-prolonging measures you want when you have an end-stage illness or terminal condition.

last will and testament comes into effect after your death. In your will, you decide who manages your estate (your personal representative or executor), who receives your property (your beneficiaries), and who cares for your minor children (a guardian). Without a will, you die “intestate,” and a court follows state laws and makes these decisions for you. With a will, you streamline probate, and you save your loved ones time and money in probate court.

Fortunately, with online estate planning templates, making a valid power of attorney in Wisconsin and creating other estate planning documents is easy.

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