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A power of attorney (POA) form is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint someone they trust (an “agent”) to manage their affairs if they are unable to do so.

You can use power of attorney to have someone make legal decisions on your behalf temporarily, or to ensure choices about your money and health care are made in your best interest if you become “incapacitated” (unable to make your own decisions due to injury or disability).

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If you become incapacitated without assigning power of attorney, a loved one or family member would need to obtain guardianship from a court in order to help with your affairs.

Table of contents:

1. Power of Attorney Forms [Free Templates]

In most cases you will need to download a state-specific form, but first you need to figure out what type of power of attorney you need. Find your printable power of attorney form below:

General/Financial Power of Attorney

This simple power of attorney form allows you to give general or specific powers to an agent to make financial decisions for you, such as operating a business, buying or selling a property, accessing accounts, and handling investments.

Our form can be made non-durable (your agent only makes decisions until you die or become incapacitated) or durable (your agent continues to make decisions if you become incapacitated).

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A durable power of attorney form focuses on how an agent can act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This form provides additional clauses, and details specific areas you can grant power over in the event you can’t care for yourself (for example, if you had a stroke or fell into a coma).

Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

A medical power of attorney is a type of durable power of attorney that specifically allows an agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. These decisions can include what treatment you receive, whether your organs are donated, and if you are kept alive on life support.

Limited (Special) Power of Attorney (LPOA)

This temporary power of attorney form allows you to give limited powers to an agent for a specific task (such as a single transaction), and typically ends when the task has been completed.

Springing Power of Attorney

This type of power of attorney “springs” into effect in a certain situation, and ends at a time you specify. For example, you can give someone authority to pay your taxes while you are deployed overseas in the military.

All the following POA forms are free to download and ready to print.

2. What is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney is the legal authority to act for someone else. An individual (the “principal”) chooses another person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to have the power to make certain decisions for them.

For example, elderly or sick parents may give power of attorney to a child or loved one, so this trusted person can carry out their financial affairs, handle estate planning, and make medical decisions if they become unable to (e.g., if they get dementia or become terminally ill).

How Do I Get Power of Attorney?

Here’s how to obtain power of attorney:

  1. First, the principal decides whether they want to give someone power of attorney, and if so, who do they want their agent to be. At this stage, it’s important for both parties to communicate fully, and for the principal to understand the consequences of giving legal power to a representative.
  2. Next, the principal defines what the power of attorney is for, and whether it is general, medical, or for specific tasks. They also need to clarify when they wish the agent to start (and stop) acting on their behalf.
  3. To set up power of attorney, both parties fill out a power of attorney form and sign.

Where Can I Get a Power of Attorney Form?

You can get a power of attorney form from the following places:

  • your state government offices or websites (e.g., the Department of Health Services)
  • your lawyer
  • our selection of free state-specific power of attorney forms
  • our free online power of attorney form builder

You can also pick up a power of attorney form from your local bank. Many banks and financial institutions have durable power of attorney forms available.

3. How to Fill Out a Blank Power of Attorney Form

Follow these steps to learn how to write a power of attorney form using our general/financial power of attorney document as an example, and complete all your power of attorney paperwork by yourself without hiring a lawyer:

Step 1: Designate an Agent

First, write your name and address at the top of the general power of attorney form (you are the principal). Then, write the name and address of the trusted individual you choose to be your agent/attorney-in-fact.

On this part of the form, you can also nominate a second person to be your agent if the first is unwilling or unable to.

Step 2: Grant General Authority and Specific Authority

The second part of the document allows you to choose which powers you give your agent and decide which decisions they can make for you.

First, write your initials next to the subjects you’d like to give general authority over, allowing your agent to make overall decisions on your behalf:

Next, initial the subjects you’d like to give specific authority over. This means that your agent cannot handle these important and sensitive affairs unless you initial them here:

Underneath, you can also include special instructions. For example, explaining how you want to limit the power you are giving to your agent.

Step 3: Set the Duration of Power of Attorney

Our general/financial power of attorney form lets you decide whether the power of authority stops if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions, or if it continues after.

On the form under “Termination,” choose regular (non-durable) or durable:

If the power of attorney is non-durable, you can also nominate a guardian in advance to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated. This step is unnecessary if the power of attorney is durable.

Step 4: Sign the Power of Attorney Form

The final step is to sign and date your POA paperwork.

Depending on your state, the power of attorney may need to be signed by up to 2 witnesses and/or a notary. Make sure to check the full signing requirements for your state.

4. Frequently Asked Questions About Power of Attorney

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What is a Power of Attorney Form?


Power of attorney is the legal authority to make important legal decisions on behalf of another person. You can use a power of attorney form to give someone you trust this authority, and have them make decisions for you when you’re unavailable, or unable to for medical reasons.

You’ll sometimes see this form referred to as a letter of attorney, or a power of attorney letter. The abbreviation POA is also commonly used.

What are the different types of power of attorney?

The following are the different types of power of attorney:

  • General (financial) power of attorney — allows someone to make financial and business decisions on your behalf
  • Durable power of attorney — a durable power of attorney stays in effect even if you become “incapacitated” (for example, in a coma) and can’t make decisions yourself
  • Medical power of attorney — a medical power of attorney allows someone else to make medical decisions for you
  • Limited (special) power of attorney — gives power to someone to make specific decisions for you that you name on the form
  • Springing power of attorney — starts and ends at a time you specify so an agent can complete a certain task

Because laws vary across the US, the type of POA you need and its format depends on where you live. Make sure to get a power of attorney form for your state.

Can I do a power of attorney myself without a lawyer?

Yes, you can do a power of attorney yourself. As long as you use a power of attorney form that meets your state’s requirements, you can complete it yourself and create a legally-binding document without hiring a lawyer. You can also use our online, free power of attorney form builder.

Does a Power of Attorney Need to be Notarized?

Yes, a power of attorney needs to be notarized. In many states, a power of attorney form needs to be notarized by a notary public to be legally binding. Check your state laws to find out if your form needs to be notarized before you can give power of attorney to an agent.

How Do I Revoke Power of Attorney?

You revoke power of attorney by:

  1. preparing a revocation of power of attorney
  2. destroying the POA document (and its copies) that you wish to revoke
  3. following any termination procedures mentioned in the POA document

You can revoke power of attorney at any time (as long as you are legally competent). You should also notify banks, businesses, and other institutions affected by the revocation.

Does Power of Attorney End at Death?

Yes, power of attorney ends at death.

You can’t use a power of attorney after death because it expires when the principal dies. At this point, a last will and testament becomes effective.

Does Power of Attorney Expire?

Yes, power of attorney expires.

You can set the date that power of attorney finishes when completing the form. If an expiration date is not written on the document, the power of attorney expires when either:

  • the principal dies
  • the principal becomes incapacitated (unless the POA is durable)
  • the agent dies or is declared legally incompetent and no alternate agent is named in the POA

Can a Power of Attorney be Changed Without Consent?

No, a power of attorney cannot be changed without consent. The principal must agree to change the powers given to the agent, and then create a new power of attorney.

Can a Power of Attorney Change a Will?

No, a power of attorney cannot change a will. A POA gives an agent authority to make legal decisions on behalf of the principal that are in their best interest, but it doesn’t override a last will and testament.

A power of attorney form directs an “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact” to act in their place for financial, health, custody, or any specific matter. The person assigning the “power” is known as the “Principal” and should only elect a person that is considered trustworthy. It’s recommended the Agent(s) selected to be the same as the Beneficiaries in their Last Will and Testament.

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Advance Directive – Is a document that combines the medical power of attorney form with the living will, creating an instrument where the principal can stipulate what is to occur should they become incapacitated and who will make decisions on their behalf.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney – Delegate financial decision-making powers to someone else. The term “durable” means the form remains in effect if the person is no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

General (Financial) Power of Attorney – Delegate financial powers to someone else and does not remain in effect if the person is considered incapacitated or mentally disabled.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

IRS Power of Attorney (Form 2848) – Required to signed and attached to an IRS filing if an accountant is doing the paperwork on the taxpayer’s behalf.

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Limited Power of Attorney – A designation for a special task given to someone else. This is common for vehicle-pickups, getting mail for someone else, or any other custom request.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Living Will – Helps users to record their desired procedure regarding situations involving them being on life support.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Medical Power of Attorney – Sometimes referred to as an “Advance Directive” or combined with a Living Will, allows a person to choose someone else to act as their health care agent in case the patient is no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Minor (Child) Power of Attorney – Select someone else to be the caretaker of a child for a temporary period.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Real Estate Power of Attorney – To allow someone else to manage, purchase, or sell real property on their behalf.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Revocation of Power of Attorney – Cancels a power of attorney immediately or on a scheduled date.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

State Tax Filing– Allows a taxpayer to have someone else to file and pay state taxes on their behalf.

Vehicle Power of Attorney – Allows the owner to select someone else to either sell or register the vehicle.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word (.docx)

A power of attorney gives another person the authority, or power, to make decisions on your behalf. It’s a document that can serve so many purposes. Financial advisors, lawyers, spouses, caregivers, and certified public accountants all eventually ask permission to sign a power of attorney so they don’t need to hassle you every time they need to file paperwork or make decisions on your behalf. Of course, you need to be careful giving power of attorney to an individual that would have access to your bank accounts or other financial accounts as they could abuse this power.

The main purposes for a power of attorney are:

  • Appointing a health care watchdog in the event you become incapacitated
  • IRS purposes for your CPA
  • Giving your financial advisors decision making power
  • Giving power for a limited time to a person of choice
  • Give broad or general powers about anything and to anyone

Obtaining a power of attorney form is fairly easy, simply select the form that best fits the power you wish to grant to another person, known as your “Agent”. It’s finding the right person to give this power is what can be tricky. If you are giving power to a professional like a lawyer or caregiver, you should have less worries as it’s a professional relationship. It’s when relying on personal relationships when giving power that you must give some thought as to who to choose.

Step 1 – Select Your Powers

Which power are you in need of giving to another individual? That is the question you, the Principal, need to ask yourself. If you are in need of having someone know your preferences if and when you become incapacitated, you would want to use a Medical (Health Care) Power of Attorney. Or say you only need a specific power and for a set amount of time, you would use a Limited Power of Attorney. Look at our Power of Attorney Types and select the form that best suits your situation.

Most popular powers are often based on:

  • Financial matters
  • Medical responsibilities

Step 2 – Choose Your Agent

The single most important aspects when selecting an agent are trust and accountability. Whether it be a hired professional or a personal colleague, this personal must be someone that you can count on when it comes time for them to act on the powers you have given them.

Recommended agents for a power of attorney:

  • Family member
  • Attorney
  • Caretaker
  • CPA

Depending on the type of power you wish to grant, the person you choose will vary accordingly. For example, if you are leaving your end of life preferences in a power of attorney, it’s best to appoint a family member or someone who is very close to you on a personal level as that person is more likely to understand your wishes. If running a business, you can give someone power of attorney to deposit checks and other financial related tasks.

Step 3 – Create a Power of Attorney Form

In order to give a person power of attorney on your behalf, you need to create a document called a power of attorney form. In this document, the Principal can detail broad or specific powers he or she wishes to give their agent. Look at the various types of power of attorney and download a power of attorney form to get started. Due to the nature of the name as it contains the word attorney (Power of Attorney), hiring an attorney to complete a power of attorney form is not necessary.

How To Write A Medical PoaTo Write A Medical Power Of Attorney The Principal, Or Person Granting Power, Will Have To Elect Someone To Handle Their Health Care Decisions (alo...

A basic power of attorney form allows the Principal to check off certain powers they wish to grant to their agent. Try to be detailed as possible and always write special instructions to give clarity about your wishes.

Helpful Tip: Pay attention to the Effective Date. Select whether the power of attorney will be set forth immediately upon signing or if the document will take effect when the Principal is determined incapacitated.

Step 4 – Sign and Notarize

A power of attorney legally goes into effect when the Principal signs the document witnessed by one or more people, depending on state requirements. Also, the Principal must be of sound mind meaning that the Principal cannot be incapacitated, drugged or mentally unstable under any circumstances when signing a power of attorney. When a power of attorney is ready to be signed, bring it to a Notary public. A notary can be found at your local bank or online at Notarize.com. In most cases, a Notary will count as a witness. Therefore in most states, bringing one witness to signing will suffice.

What does power of attorney mean?

Power of attorney is the act of giving legal authority to another person, known as an “agent” or “attorney-fact”, to take action on their behalf.

How to sign as power of attorney?

When an agent signs a document on the Principal’s behalf, he or she must do it in a certain format that clearly shows all that are involved that they are signing on behalf of the Principal. See the image below for instructions.

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What happens to power of attorney after death?

After the Principal dies, a power of attorney is no longer in effect. It becomes void as the agent cannot act on the behalf of the Principal because the Principal is deceased. Any decisions regarding the Principal’s estate and post death wishes should be found in the Principal’s Last Will and Testament.

How to revoke power of attorney?

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Arkansas

To revoke is to void, cancel or replace an existing power of attorney. A power of attorney can be revoked in 3 different ways which are:

  1. Issuing a revocation of power of attorney form which will void your current power of attorney
  2. The Principal dies
  3. Creating a new power of attorney and notifying all parties involved with the previous power of attorney

Does a power of attorney need to be notarized?

Arizona

Most states require a power of attorney to be notarized to legally take effect. Check with your local state requirements. No matter which state you reside in, it’s always a good idea to have a power of attorney notarized.

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Does guardianship override power of attorney?

In most cases, guardianship over a minor supersedes a power of attorney. Due to the involvement of court proceedings with guardianship cases, it’s difficult to give a broad answer to this question as each case may be different when it comes to guardianship vs power of attorney.

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