A power of attorney authorizes another individual to act on your behalf in relation to all or some of your affairs. Many people sign powers of attorney over the course of their lives, for example, if they are traveling abroad, going into the hospital or simply seeking reassurance that their affairs will be looked after in times of need. Two main forms of power of attorney exist in Alabama: a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. Residents may also sign a revenue power of attorney in relation to their tax affairs.
General Legal Provisions
Section 26-1-2 of the Code of Alabama sets out the laws relating to powers of attorney signed in the state. The person who signs the power of attorney is known as the principal. The individual who accepts the authorization is termed the agent. There is no statutory form of power of attorney in Alabama and the precise wording depends on the individual circumstances. A General Power of Attorney remains effective when the even it was created for transpires, the principal becomes incapacitated or the POA is revoked.
Durable Power of Attorney
Unless a power of attorney is deemed to be durable, it ceases to have effect if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated. Since many people wish to have a power of attorney for precisely these circumstances, the law permits them to sign a durable power of attorney that will remain in force even if the principal becomes legally incompetent. Section 26-1-2 (a) provides that to be durable, a power of attorney must contain words stating that it shall not be affected by the incompetency, disability or incapacity of the principal.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Section 26-1-2 (g) provides that an individual may appoint an agent to make health care decisions on his behalf by signing a power of attorney. This document can also be known as an advance directive. Although the terms of each power of attorney vary, the law expressly prohibits an agent from making certain life changing decisions, including those relating to psycho-surgery, sterilization or abortion (except when necessary to preserve the life of the principal).
Revenue Power of Attorney
The Alabama Department of Revenue permits taxpayers to appoint a representative to deal with their tax matters. Taxpayers must complete Form 2848A and file it with the Department of Revenue. The representative has the power to receive confidential tax information and to perform any acts that the taxpayer would otherwise perform. The taxpayer may specify any further activities that he wishes his representative to attend to in Form 2848A.
Based in the United Kingdom, Holly Cameron has been writing law-related articles since 1997. Her writing has appeared in the "Journal of Business Law." Cameron is a qualified lawyer with a Master of Laws in European law from the University of Strathclyde.