A Power of Attorney for a Minor (child) is a document that permits the attorney-in-fact or agent to act on the principal’s behalf in a specific situation.
It is typically used by parents or legal guardians of children to authorize another person, usually a trusted family member, friend, guardian, or attorney-in-fact, to be the child’s caretaker temporarily. The child power of attorney form specifies what type of authority is granted, who is authorized to exercise that authority, and under what conditions/circumstances. Generally, this legal document will allow the agent to decide matters relating to the child’s education, health care, property, finances, and other needs.
The child power of attorney may allow the agent to exercise broad powers, or it may be limited in scope, depending on the type of POA that the principal holder executes. A power of attorney for a child is only valid for 6-12 months in most cases. Still, the minor’s parent (principal holder) can extend this designation by applying for guardianship, or they may create and execute a new power of attorney. According to most state laws, the minor power of attorney form must be signed before a notary public to be valid. Once it is authorized, the appointed attorney-in-fact will need to present this document each time a public or private institution requests verification.
A child’s power of attorney is also termed as the following:
- Minor power of attorney
- A medical power of attorney for a child
- Guardianship power of attorney
- A power of attorney for child care and custody
- Temporary delegation of parental authority
- Grandparent power of attorney
- Temporary power of attorney for minor
- POA for child
When to Use a Power of Attorney for a Child?
Parents and guardians can execute a child’s power of attorney when they are away from home (i.e., when traveling for business or vacation, deployed overseas for military service) or ill or incapacitated. The document may also prove helpful in situations where the minor’s parent is incarcerated. This way, their child’s needs will still be met even if they are unavailable or not able to make these decisions for themselves at that particular time.
Power of Attorney Vs. Guardianship
A power of attorney is different from a guardianship, although both documents are legal tools that grant authority to an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal holder. These documents are different because a power of attorney for a child is used when the parent or guardian is temporarily unable to make decisions on the child’s behalf and would like to delegate their parental authority to a trusted agent to care for the child’s needs while they are away.
On the other hand, guardianship is used if an adult is incapable of making responsible decisions due to a mental disability and a substitute decision-maker (guardian) is appointed by a court. Unlike a power of attorney, where the principal retains parental authority, guardianship dictates that complete parental control and authority be transferred to the court-appointed guardian.
Moreover, a parent may choose to revoke a child’s power of attorney. However, the parent cannot change guardianship because it involves a profound loss of parental authority and privileges. Only a court can change guardianship.
Choosing an Agent
Parents and guardians should choose a trusted person to act as the agent for their power of attorney for the child. This person should have a close relationship with the child, and they should be able to take good care of the child’s needs during their parent’s absence or the specified circumstances. Besides, the appointed agent should make sound and informed decisions.
Grandparents, siblings, aunt, uncle, close family friend, etc. can be named as agents in a child power of attorney form. Before appointing either of these parties as an agent for the Minor POA, it is essential to hold a discussion with them beforehand such that everyone is on the same page.
The principal’s expectations should be explicitly laid out during the discussion to gauge whether the agent is up to the task. Given that the agent has any second thoughts on their ability to care for the child’s needs while the parent is away, that needs to be taken into account such that at the end of the day, the most suited person is granted the temporary parental authority.
Powers and responsibilities of an agent
A minor power of attorney gives the designated attorney-in-fact the legal authority to act on behalf of the parent or guardian in matters relating to the child’s care. The powers granted could be broad (i.e., almost full parental authority) or limited to affairs only listed in the POA form.
In this way, based on the type of powers granted, the agent can sign school forms, medical forms, and legal forms for the child on behalf of their parent. The agent can also provide primary day-to-day care for the child, travel with the child, enroll the child in school, daycare, or extra-curricular activities, access school records, and participate in decisions regarding the child’s education.
Duration of POA for a child
A child’s power of attorney is valid for a duration that the principal holder usually specifies when executing the document. For example, suppose the POAs expiration date is not determined. In that case, most state laws governing minor powers of attorneys dictate that it remains valid for a period of between six (6) to twelve (12) months maximum.
However, the principal holder can choose to extend this period if they anticipate being absent longer by executing a new minor power of attorney once the previous POA expires. In addition, given that the child’s parent is a military service member, federal laws stipulate that the child’s power of attorney expires once the parent’s military deployment expires.
How to Get a POA for a Child?
Getting a power of attorney for a child does not have to be a daunting task. The only requirement is that the principal ensures that the document is written and completed according to the state-specific requirements regarding time limits, signing provisions, and state statutes concerning Minor powers of attorney. Mastering the necessary steps to obtain a power of attorney for a child will ensure that a valid POA is created.
The following are the steps to get a POA for a child:
Select a trustworthy agent
First, the parent or legal guardian should choose a trusted adult who will act as the agent of their child power of attorney. Ideally, this should be a person who has a close relationship with the child, a person the parent can rely on to make sound and informed decisions while away, and who can fend for children’s needs.
Think about the start and end dates
Secondly, the principal holder will need to decide the appropriate timeframe for the validity of the minor power of attorney form. Typically, a power of attorney for a child is valid for between 6 and 12 months in most states; thus, the principal will need to consider this.
Define the agent’s powers and responsibilities
The next step involves deciding what powers and responsibilities to grant the selected agent. It is crucial that the principal lists all of the tasks they will need their child’s power of attorney agent to handle while they are away or unavailable. The outlined powers and responsibilities must be specific and relevant to the requirements that need to be fulfilled by an agent of a POA for a minor.
Sign the form
After defining the agent’s powers and responsibilities, it is time to execute the power of attorney form. This is usually done by signing and dating the document. Depending on the principal’s state of residence and the applicable state laws, the parent may need to sign the document before a notary public, and it may need to be witnessed.
The agent will also be required to sign a power of attorney for minor form, and they may need to authorize a certification acknowledging their responsibilities. Additionally, both the witnesses and notary public will also be required to sign and date the POA form, and a seal from the notary citizen may be required.
Use the form
The child power of attorney form is executed at this stage, and the agent is authorized to make specific parental decisions on behalf of the principal. A copy of the completed and duly signed power of attorney form should be issued to the agent, which they will present anytime they are required to make decisions on behalf of the parent. The agent may make decisions deemed in the child’s best interest while ensuring that they act within the parent’s directives.
Following are free editable templates that can be customized as per needs:
Maximum Time Period
Different states have diverse laws regarding the maximum duration for a power of attorney for a minor. Whereas most states require it to be valid for between 6-12 months, a principal must create a child power of attorney that conforms to their state-specific maximum periods.
The table below provides a list of all states and the maximum time validity period of a power of attorney for a child:
|New Hampshire||No laws|
|New Jersey||6 months|
|New Mexico||6 months|
|New York||Not mentioned|
|New Carolina||Not mentioned|
|North Dakota||6 months|
|Rhode Island||Not mentioned|
|South Carolina||Not mentioned|
|South Dakota||Not mentioned|
|Washington D.C||Not mentioned|
|West Virginia||Not mentioned|
Signing requirements for a minor power of attorney also vary by state. This table lists the various U.S. states and their applicable child power of attorney signing requirements. To ensure you create a valid power of attorney form for your child, confirm with your relevant state-specific signing requirements.
|Arizona||Witness and a notary public|
|California||Notary public and two witnesses|
|Connecticut||Two witnesses and notarization recommended|
|Florida||Notary public and two witnesses|
|Illinois||One witness for health care powers|
|Louisiana||Two witnesses and a notary public|
|Maryland||Two witnesses and a notary public|
|Massachusetts||Two witnesses and notarization recommended|
|Michigan||Two witnesses and a notary public|
|New Hampshire||Notary public|
|New Jersey||Two witnesses|
|New Mexico||Notary public|
|New York||Notary public|
|New Carolina||Notary public|
|North Dakota||Notarization recommended|
|Pennsylvania||Notary public and two witnesses|
|Rhode Island||Notary public|
|South Carolina||Notary and two witnesses|
|South Dakota||Notarization recommended|
|Virginia||Notary public and witness|
|Washington||Notary public and two witnesses|
|West Virginia||Notary public|
Minor Power of Attorney Laws
In the U.S., a power of attorney for a minor is governed by state laws. These laws vary depending on the principal’s county and state of jurisdiction. Each state has its regulations regarding power of attorney for a child, and each state enforces its own rules regarding the execution and use of the document. Below is a table detailing the various U.S. states and the relevant laws governing minor powers of attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Most state laws governing powers of attorney prohibit the bestowal of authority upon a minor. An ideal agent must be within the required legal age, usually at least 18 years for most states. However, this may differ depending on your state, and other states may not hold the age restriction requirement for potential agents. In such cases, a minor can be granted powers of attorney.
An attorney or lawyer is not mandatory when creating a child’s power of attorney. You can download your state-specific child power of attorney forms online, duly fill them out as per the instructions, and sign it following your state requirements and laws. However, while you can create this document on your own, it is recommended that you consult an estate planning lawyer to ensure that your minor POA covers everything you need for your child’s care, grants the agent the proper powers, and ensure the document is appropriately executed.
A child’s power of attorney does not terminate the parent or guardian’s rights, duties, and responsibilities. Instead, it works as an add-on and complements existing responsibilities and obligations. Additionally, the Minor POA form does not allow the agent to make legal decisions for the child, such as giving up the child for adoption, marrying off the child, placing the child with another person whom the court has already deemed as unfit, nor limiting the parent/guardian’s rights. The document only allows the agent to decide specific needs and interests, as directed by the child’s parent.
The average cost of getting a POA for child care and custody varies from state to state. Factors like whether or not an attorney is required, the duration of the document, the complexity of its provisions, and whether or not it will be used in other states may impact its final cost. However, a typical POA for child care and custody will usually cost between $200 and $500.
The simple answer to this question varies depending on your state of residence and the applicable minor power of attorney signing requirements. It is a pre-requisite that the POA for a minor must be notarized in some states. However, in other states, it is permissible to use a power of attorney for a child without having it notarized.
This also varies depending on your state of residence and your specified start and end dates while executing your child’s power of attorney. However, it is essential to note that most states require the minor POA to last between 6-12 months. To confirm your state’s maximum time limits, consider confirming with your estate planning attorney or reference the child POA maximum time limits by the state table provided in this article above.