A ‘general power of attorney form’ is a document that is employed by individuals who wish to delegate their financial decision making to another person. This delegation typically lasts till death or until incapacitation arises, on condition that it is not revoked.
How is a ‘general power of attorney’ different from the ‘durable power of attorney?’
While the two of them generally handle the same issues, the period of time they are in force is what separates the two of them. The ‘general power of attorney’ is in force until the death or incapacitation of the issuer.
Its ‘durable power of attorney,’ on the other hand takes effect from the point of incapacitation onwards. As such, it empowers the beneficiary to make crucial end-of-life decisions on behalf of the issuer.
What’s a general power of attorney?
A general power of attorney is a legal instrument that is employed by one person to delegate the authority to make crucial decisions to another person. The authority generally stays in force until the issuer (principal) passes on, becomes incapacitated, or revokes it. Below are some the duties which the form empowers the recipient to undertake:
- Make and collect payments
- Estate or business management
- Acquire, lease out, or dispose of property
- Issue out gifts
- Deal and handle motor vehicles
- Enter into contracts
- Handle general healthcare issues
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
- Sue third parties
- Make safe deposits
When do you need a power of attorney?
You need this legal instrument in the following three major case scenarios:
If you operate a busy schedule, especially one that entails regular travels, you might not have the time to undertake the roles above on your own. Moreover, you may often be penalized if you do not meet the stipulated headlines. That is why you want to delegate the same to a less busy person.
Some of the chores above require some expertise to undertake. The chances are that you may not have the necessary expertise to do so. To be able to do a good job and meet the requirements to the letter, you will yet again have to choose someone with the right skill to do them for you.
In some states, there are issues that are only performed by persons who are well qualified and appropriately licensed to do the same. In case you are not licensed, the only way forward for you is to choose someone who has those very skills to do that.
How to get a Power of Attorney?
To get the ‘power of attorney,’ you have to follow these steps to the letter:
Step I: Select your agent
The agent is the person to whom you wish to delegate a power of attorney. Your first and foremost step should be to choose this person. Generally speaking, this has to be someone whom you know at a personal level and is trustworthy. He should, of necessity, possess the necessary expertise too!
Step II: Delineate the scope of the power of attorney
As we have already stated above, there are many duties which a power of attorney may delegate to a third party. Moreover, each person is generally confronted with a unique set of problems. It is up to you hence, to determine what exactly you want the agent to perform on your behalf.
Step III: Pursue legal guardianship
Just in case you are unable to obtain this power yourself, consider pursuing legal guardianship. This guardianship should also be pursued in the event that the principal who happens to be you are incapacitated and is unable to act on your own.
Step IV: Check the requirements of your state
It is always necessary to act within the law. Remember, these agreements and powers governed by laws that are crafted and vary from state to state. It is hence vital that you check the requirements of your states that govern such powers. Be sure to act strictly within these confines to avoid ruffling feathers with authority.
Step V: Download and fill the form
Having set the stage perfectly well, you now have to get to the core business of filing the form. While many states allow you to use whichever form you have, you are strongly advised to choose that which is issued by the state. It is more likely to be more accepted and authentic.
Step VI: Proof-read your document
After filing the details, you have to proofread the document to see to it that all the pieces of information you furnish are accurate and to the point. It must specifically spell out the names of the agent, principal, and the kinds of powers that are delegated to a third party.
Step VII: Gather some witnesses
It is always necessary that you gather some witnesses to vouch for your own agreement and decision, even if none is required by your state. These are persons who are well known to the two of you and therefore have the ability to offer reliable confirmation later on.
Step VIII: Hire an attorney to review the document
Though not a must, you are highly advised to hire an attorney to review the document. Let the attorney see to it that everything is done in accordance with the prevailing rules, laws, and regulations. This is to prevent issues from arising in the event of a dispute later on.
Step IX: Notarize the document
This is also an optional step, but which is highly recommended, though. You should notarize the document to make it acceptable by the state. The procedure also eliminates any ambiguities and doubts that may arise with regards to its validity later on.
Step X: Save the document
Lastly, you should save the document. Let each party to the agreement save a copy for himself. These are you, the principal, the witnesses, and the agent himself. There you go!
General Power of Attorney Forms (by State)
Free Power of Attorney Form
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Durable vs. General Power of Attorney
A ‘durable power of attorney’ comes in effect when the principal is either incapacitated or terminally ill so much so that he cannot make crucial decisions on its own. The ‘general power of attorney,’ however, is in force within the lifetime of the principal, not unless it is revoked.
How many persons must witness power of attorney?
This requirement varies from state to state. In most states, two witnesses are enough. Others may impose three witnesses, yet others require no witness at all. It is hence necessary that you familiarize yourself with the requirements of your state before proceeding.
How can a general power of attorney be terminated/revoked?
Step I: Construct your own revocation document
Start off by constructing your own revocation document. While at it, choose a format that is easily noticeable and which displays the information you need in a clearly legible manner. You may seek inspiration from legal websites.
Step II: Fill out the form
Go ahead to fill the form out. Be sure to make it plain that you are revoking a power of attorney. Identify yourself and name the agent too. Lastly, date the form appropriately.
Step III: Display the form to some witnesses and a notary public
To make the form more legally acceptable, you have to display the form to some witnesses and a notary public. These persons, you will find in a law office or a bank. Assign their photo IDs and notarize the form thereafter.
Step IV: Write the word ‘REVOKED.’
Write the word ‘REVOKED’ in bold, dark, and large letters. Make several copies and your intent to revoke the agreement. Attach a copy of your ‘revoked power of attorney’ to each copy of the ‘original power of attorney.’
Step V: Notify your existing agent
As a last measure, you have to notify your existing agent of your decision to revoke the initial power of attorney you had delegated to him. Do the same to all institutions which you may have some dealings with. Utilize the certified mail to prove that the persons to whom they are addressed receive them.
Who can act as my attorney?
You have the leeway to appoint anyone to act as your attorney. These persons must be aged 18 years and above, mentally stable, well-known to you, and trustworthy enough to handle confidential issues on your behalf. Check out your state requirements, too, in order that you do everything in accordance with the law.
Do you need a lawyer to get a power of attorney?
You really need no lawyer to draft this agreement. However, a lawyer comes in when reviewing and notarizing the agreement later on. It is also a good thing to hire a lawyer to review the language used and to ensure that every aspect of the document meets the existing legal thresholds.