A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows one or more person(s) (known as agent/s) to make the decisions on behalf of another person (principal, the maker of POA) under such circumstances where he is not able to act for himself.
A power of attorney rules and regulations differ from state to state and are accepted far and wide. The POA may give the power to your agent to act on your behalf in certain situations.
The power of attorney will come into effect right after the occurrence of an event, where the principal is not present physically to take an appropriate action. This is called a ‘springing’ POA.
The power of attorney can also be revoked, but courts in many states require written notice in regards to the revocation of the POA. The name(s) of your agent(s) should also be included in the notice.
How to obtain a POA
A financial power of attorney can be used in case of future inability or incapacity of making financial decisions. If you are planning to secure your financials in the future, it is better to opt for a ‘durable’ POA, as it will continue to be effective until the particular mentioned event has not occurred.
Other than that, a POA can also be drafted for short-term financial purposes. For instance, if a person is going abroad and he wants his property to be sold, or the bills to be paid, then he can give an individual the power of attorney to look after the financial matters behind him.
To get a POA you have to:
Check requirements of your states:
The rules and requirements of the POA are relatively the same in every state, but in some states, you may be required to submit special forms (depending on the complications of POA). Usually, the document of POA contains the name of the principal, agent(s), and the event, and limited actions that the agent is legally allowed to perform.
Write a POA or download the form:
In most states, it is not necessary to submit an affidavit along with the letter of power of attorney. However, for keeping the record straight, it’d be good to check the form issued by your state to get a specific idea of what language and terms are covered in your POA.
Check whatever you’ve mentioned:
Before submitting your POA, especially if it is made for granting financial authority, you must check the name of the person and details to whom you have decided to give the power, the limitations, and the scope of your grant.
In some states, it is necessary to have one or two trusted individuals to be present when the principal and the agent sign the document. For example, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and all other 42 states require two witnesses at least to sign the power of attorney document, while New Mexico and Utah don’t need any witnesses. In these two states the notary public officer can sign the document. If possible, make sure you have one.
How to protect your power of attorney?
You may have decided to write your POA on your own. But it still needs to go through a complete evaluation from a professional. To ensure that you haven’t missed out on any legal formality while preparing your POA, you must:
Consider hiring a lawyer to review your document:
An attorney may find out legal issues that you may have cited in your document, due to lack of legal knowledge. Even if you have followed the guidelines, it is important to get your POA reviewed by a lawyer, and to seek help.
Have your POA notarized:
Many states require the POA document to be signed by the principal and the agent in front of the notary public officer. However, if the state – you live in – does not require POA notarization, you must still opt for it, because it eliminates any doubts and confusion regarding the validity of the legal document.
Save your power of attorney document:
There’s no need to file your power of attorney at any court or government agency, but that doesn’t mean you take the document for granted. You must keep the document safe at your home to be used at the time it gets effective.
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