There are several types of powers of attorney (POA) in South Carolina and each requires specific documentation to be valid. It’s a fairly simple process to complete once you’ve chosen which type you need and who you trust to act as your legal representative.
The Basics of a Power of Attorney
A POA isn’t obtained by someone. It’s given to someone by you, the maker or principal. It’s a document that gives another person, your agent, the authority to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters. The POA can grant limited authority to your agent, such as signing checks from your bank account to pay monthly bills, or it can grant broad powers to sign documents, make financial investments or sell real estate holdings.
A POA can become void after a specified amount of time or remain in effect until your death. You can revoke a POA at any time, as long as you’re mentally competent. If you choose to revoke the POA, you must send a notice to all interested parties, such as your bank, mortgage holder and attorney. As the principal, you decide what acts you want to authorize your agent to do, when that authority begins and how long it lasts.
A medical power of attorney names a surrogate to act on your behalf regarding medical decisions if you aren’t capable of doing making them for yourself.
Types of Powers of Attorney
Like most states, South Carolina law recognizes several types of powers of attorney:
- Limited POA: Authorizes your agent to act as your representative for a specific transaction, such as signing closing documents for the sale or purchase of a home. This POA is void if you become incapacitated or once the transaction is complete. * Nondurable POA: Gives your agent the authority to make decisions as outlined in the document. This type of POA is often used to grant business partners the authority to complete transactions your unavailable. Private individuals can use it as well for similar purposes. This POA is automatically void if you, the principal, become incapacitated.
- Durable POA: Grants your agent broad authority to act in your best interests, but differs from the nondurable POA in that it continues even after you become disabled or incapacitated. You can use a durable POA to grant an adult child or other trustworthy person authority over financial and legal concerns if you become incapacitated.
- Health care POA: Grants an agent the power to make decisions regarding your medical care when you can no longer make those decisions yourself. The document allows space to address your wishes regarding preferences for life-sustaining measures and other health care actions.
Creating a Valid POA
Some states require statutory POAs, which is a document that contains the same language as the state law governing POAs. South Carolina does not have a statutory POA, but does require that a durable POA clearly state that the agent’s authority will not be revoked if the principal becomes disabled of incapacitated.
Power of Attorney forms are available on numerous websites, including SC.gov. Once you’ve obtained the form, be sure to fill out each section carefully since the information on the document is legally binding once it’s signed. You may need to take the form to a notary public to have your signature, as well as your agent's, witnessed, depending on the type of POA you create.
POAs involving real estate transactions must be recorded. Otherwise, you don’t usually need to file a general or durable POA with the courts. The document must be signed and notarized by two adult witnesses to be valid.