A principal will name a trusted person to take on the responsibility of their financial and medical affairs if they become incapacitated. Before that happens, they'll create an Iowa power of attorney form, known as a POA. In Iowa, POAs can be durable, meaning they remain valid until the principal dies or revokes the document. They can be limited in scope, meaning they act only on matters specifically designated on the form.
What Is Power of Attorney Used For?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives a person, referred to as an agent or "attorney-in-fact," power to act on behalf of another person, known as the principal. The POA gives the agent authority to manage the principal's affairs if they are incapacitated due to illness or disability. The agent may have broad or limited power on behalf of the principal.
The principal chooses a competent adult to act as their agent, such as an accountant, banker, attorney or family member. Whomever the principal chooses should be trustworthy, as they have great power and responsibility. Iowa law allows principals to appoint co-agents who can exercise their authority through majority rule.
However, if they cannot come to agreement, an agent can petition the court to resolve the conflict. The principal can also name a "successor" or alternate agent if their first choice becomes unavailable.
Most Common Types of Power of Attorney
While powers of attorney in Iowa can be broad or limited to specific powers, the two most common categories are:
- Financial power of attorney, which allows the agent to attend to the principal's financial matters.
- An Iowa medical power of attorney, termed a "durable power of attorney for health care," enables the agent to make the principal's medical decisions.
Iowa Power of Attorney Laws
In Iowa, POAs can be "durable," meaning they become effective when the principal is incapacitated and are only voided by death or revocation. "Non-durable" POAs meaning they cover a specific period of time or particular transaction.
To create a valid Iowa durable power of attorney, the principal authorizes the agent to make decisions using a POA form, which can be in the form of a letter or a full legal document, depending upon the situation's complexity.
The principal must sign the document in front of a notary public or two witnesses who can affirm that the principal is physically present to sign it, not under duress while signing it, and of sound mind at the time. The POA is effective immediately unless it states that it takes effect after a certain event, such as the incapacity of the principal.
Revoking an Iowa Durable POA
A principal may want to revoke a POA and can do so at any time. They may have a number of reasons for doing so:
- They no longer need a POA because they can make their own decisions.
- They do not trust their agent.
- They have found someone else more suited to their needs.
- Their agent may have moved away or died.
- The agent fulfilled their responsibility and is no longer needed.
The principal must create a document stating their intent to revoke the POA. Once they complete it, they must provide copies to agent and to the entities it will affect, such as banks or others doing business with the principal. Some Iowa jurisdictions also require that the principal publishes a legal notice of the revocation in a local newspaper.
Creating a new POA also revokes the power of the old one. When a spouse has been designated as an agent for a principal's health care decisions, divorce automatically revokes it.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.