A power of attorney, or POA, is a document that gives one person the ability to make decisions or complete legal and financial transactions for someone else. In Tennessee, you can get power of attorney for someone by having that person complete a power of attorney document. Powers of attorney can be drafted for anything you specify, including medical decisions, finances and property. These are legal documents that fall under state jurisdiction, so the requirements in Tennessee may be slightly different than in other states.
Types of Powers of Attorney
In Tennessee, powers of attorney can be durable or non-durable. A durable power of attorney means it comes into effect when the grantor cannot make her own decisions. A non-durable power of attorney means it ends when the grantor cannot make her own decisions.
A durable healthcare power of attorney, for example, gives the power to another when the grantor is unable to make decisions for herself, like if she is in a coma or suffering from an illness like advanced dementia. The state government's template includes a power of attorney in its form for advanced care plans.
Using this form, the grantor should write her full name and specify the name of the person to act as her agent. She can also name a secondary agent, specifying that this person is being granted authority to make decisions if the first agent is unable or unwilling to do so. She can also specify which decisions she doesn't want her agent to make, like putting her on a breathing machine when there is no hope of recovery.
Financial Powers of Attorney
A financial power of attorney gives the agent control over the grantor's finances and property. These can be as general or as limited as the grantor wishes. For example, the Tennessee Department of Revenue Power of Attorney gives the agent, or representative, the authority to work on the grantor's taxes, but nothing else. The Power of Attorney for Vehicle Transactions limits the agent's authority to transferring vehicle ownership to another person.
Read More: Power of Attorney in Nevada
Writing a Power of Attorney
You can write a power of attorney yourself, use a template or ask a lawyer to write one for you. As a legal document, it must be carefully worded. The Tennessee government offers power of attorney templates for health care, taxes and vehicle transactions, which you can download and fill out.
In Tennessee, all power of attorney documents must be signed by the person granting the authority to someone else. In many cases, the person being appointed will also need to sign. Witnessing requirements vary, depending on what authorities are being given. In the case of healthcare, the document can be witnessed by two people who do not have a stake in the transfer of authority or notarized by a notary public. A motor vehicle power of attorney must be notarized, and a power of attorney for taxes must be signed by the representative being named and his relationship to the grantor must be stated.
If you have any questions about the legality of the document that's been drafted, or whether the power of attorney is in the best interests of the person granting powers to another, you should consult an attorney.
Using a Power of Attorney
When using a power of attorney, all that is required is the power of attorney document. The agent or representative must always act in the best interests of the grantor. When finances or property are involved, the agent must always keep his own finances separate from the grantor's and must keep accurate records of all transactions. A grantor can revoke a power of attorney at any time by notice to the agent, but it important to notify every person and business who was presented with the power of attorney that the power of attorney is no longer in effect.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has worked as a consultant for many small businesses and non-governmental organizations, including several law firms and bar associations. David has also has written hundreds of articles on legal matters and small business trends for newspapers, magazines and online publications including About.com and American Express.