Legal How-To: Getting a General Power of Attorney
Getting a power of attorney can be important, especially as relatives and loved ones fall ill or become unable to make decisions for themselves. So how do you go about getting a power of attorney?
A general power of attorney authorizes you to legally take on the affairs of someone else indefinitely, but it can easily be confused with other types of POAs.
By following these steps, getting a general power of attorney will not seem as bewildering.
1. What Type of Power of Attorney Do You Need?
Generally speaking, there are three types of power of attorney, and each functions in a slightly different way.
- A durable power of attorney is commonly used to allow the holder to make healthcare or financial decisions when a person lacks capacity to make her own decisions.
- A general power of attorney gives the holder broad powers to make business, medical, financial or legal decisions for another.
- A special power of attorney only gives the agent power to make decisions in a specific area, like a particular business interest.
2. What Are the Rules in Your State?
Different states have different requirements for powers of attorney. Here are a few common requirements you may want to look into:
- The number of witnesses required. Most states require two witnesses in addition to the two signing the power of attorney agreement.
- Getting it notarized. Some states, like California, prefer or require the agreement to be notarized.
- Rules about revocation. There may be specific rules about who can revoke the power of attorney once given. In Louisiana, for example, a court may not even consider mental state in revoking the power.
3. Find the Applicable Forms.
Some state governments provide standard forms online for getting a general power of attorney. It's free to download the forms, but finding them may prove frustrating depending on your state.
Another option is to use forms provided online. For a reasonable, set fee, you can obtain the forms you need and fill them out on your schedule.
Need More Help?
Once you have your signed forms, it's often wise to consult an attorney in your area to make sure that you have all your legal ducks in a row. An experienced lawyer can also make sure that you've chosen the right type of power of attorney for your particular case, and can even help you draft and review your agreement if needed.
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