Power of attorney, also referred to as a POA, is a legal document that allows a person (principal) to choose someone else (agent or attorney-in-fact) to represent their financial, medical, tax, vehicle, parental, or any other needs selected. The document does not need an attorney to create (although it is always advised that a person seek legal counsel) and after completion, depending on the State, signatures need to be witnessed by at least two (2) people or by a notary public (preferred).
Powers of Attorney in the United States are subject to the laws of individual states, so the document changes to conform to your particular state s laws. There is no overall federal law concerning Powers of Attorney, but there is a model Uniform Power of Attorney Act which many states have adopted, fully or partially.
A Special or Limited POA gives an Agent the power to act on your behalf, but only specific powers. You can create several Special POAs, with different agents granted different powers. Here is a list of some of the specific powers you can grant to your Agent:.
- Sign checks.
- Withdraw money.
- Make a gift.
- Create, amend, revoke, or terminate an inter vivos trust.
- Create or change rights of survivorship.
- Create or change a beneficiary designation.
- Authorize another person to exercise authority granted by the power of attorney.
- Waive the principal’s right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity, including a survivor benefit under a retirement plan.
- Exercise fiduciary powers that the principal has authority to delegate.
A simple POA will identify the following basic elements:
- Agent(s): a responsible and trustworthy person acting on your behalf.
- Principal: person assisted with personal, business, or legal matters.
- Grant of Authority: general or specific authority to take certain actions.
- Effective Date: when the the form effectively begins, usually immediately.
- Signatures: the Principal and a Notary must sign the document.