Although legal supply stores and websites offer power-of-attorney forms, a generic form might not suit your personal needs. A power of attorney can be almost anything you want it to be, so there’s no need to limit yourself to purchased, prewritten forms. You can write your own if you follow some basic guidelines. You might benefit from having an attorney review it after you’ve completed it, however, to make sure it adequately covers you under the law.
Decide to whom you want to give the power of attorney. You’re authorizing someone to make many important decisions for you, and those decisions legally bind you, not him. Your agent or attorney-in-fact, the person you give this power to, should be someone you trust implicitly.
Read More: How to Give Someone Power of Attorney
Determine when you want your agent to act for you. If you only want him to take care of your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated, this is a springing POA. If you want to authorize him to act both now and after you become incapacitated, this is a durable POA.
Decide the nature of your POA. Make a list of the things you want your agent to be able to do for you, such as make health care decisions for you, manage your personal business and finances, or both.
Write the caption of your POA at the top of a page, based on the decisions you’ve made. For example, if you want your agent to make only health-care decisions for you after you become incapacitated, write “Springing Power of Attorney for Health Care.” If you want to give him broad powers, now and in the future, write “Durable General Power of Attorney.”
State your name and address under the caption, with a notation that you’re of sound mind. State that you’re appointing the agent you’ve selected, and include his name and address. Write specifically that you’re naming him as your “true and lawful” agent or attorney-in-fact.
Specifically list all the things you’re authorizing your agent to do. You can copy this from the list you’ve already made and add identifying information, such as addresses of real estate you’re making him responsible for, or the numbers of accounts you’re authorizing him to manage for you.
Insert the date on which you would like your POA to become effective. If you want it to end on a certain date, rather than be durable or springing, state this as well. Include language that specifically indicates you want your POA to be durable and last past your incapacitation, if this is what you’ve decided.
Make signature lines, with dates, for you, your agent and a notary public. Arrange for both you and your agent to sign your POA in the presence of a notary.
It’s not necessary to file your POA with the court, but if you want your agent to be responsible for buying or selling real estate on your behalf, you must file it with the deed recorder of the county where the property is located.
If you make a new POA, this does not necessarily revoke the old one unless you include specific language to this effect in your POA. Generally, the best way to supersede your first power of attorney with a new one is to revoke the initial one in writing.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.