A General Power of Attorney is the act of giving consent to someone else to make decisions on your behalf by filing the general power of attorney form.
Such decisions are made based on the powers that you allow them to have and control. The person that you give such powers to is known as an agent, and you become the principal. This general version of a Power of Attorney becomes void when the principal can no longer think for themselves as a result of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other issues.
As a principal, you may want a general power of attorney form for the following reasons:
- You may be unable to handle your day-to-day financial affairs
- You are getting to old age and you require a representative
- You tend to travel out of the country often or you may be facing incapacitation due to being diagnosed with a serious illness.
- You may seek it if you work in a hazardous environment
- You have children that require provision if you become incapacitated
- You are unavailable and you need your business/property maintained
- You have specifications about how your business/property should be run.
Durable POA Vs General POA
There is a difference between a Durable POA and a General POA. A Durable Power of Attorney guarantees that the agent you have selected will handle your financial matters as long as you are alive. This means that the agent can still act on your behalf even when you become incapacitated. A general power of attorney, unlike the durable version, remains valid until you become incapacitated.
If you become incapacitated or die, the General POA becomes void. Also, in some cases, it becomes void if you, as the principal, have indicated a date or event that directs so. Check out our other page of the same website to gather more information on the Durable Power of Attorney and general power of attorney in depth. Below are details of the two legal documents, the General POA form and Durable POA form, that put the General POA and Durable POA into effect respectively.
A General (Financial) Power of Attorney is a non-durable version. This means that the agent can act on your behalf until incapacitation or until you can no longer make rational decisions for yourself, for instance, when in a coma or a vegetative state. After you are incapacitated, the agent can no longer act on your behalf on your financial matters.
However, the durable version allows the agent to act on your behalf as long as you are alive. The agent can continue making financial decisions on your behalf even after you are not in a position to think for yourself. The durable version is viable and stays in effect as long as you as the principal are still alive, even if incapacitated due to illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A General (Financial) Power of Attorney Form, even though non-durable, must be signed in accordance with the same rules of durable signing laws. Durable signing laws direct that for the power of attorney document to be legally recognized, you as the principal must sign and complete the form according to your respective State laws.
Requirements for a General Power of Attorney Form to be Valid
There are several conditions that must be met for a general power of attorney form to be effective.
These requirements are as follows:
- You, as the principal, must have the requisite capacity to sign the Power of Attorney document. You must be able to adhere to the regulations surrounding the signing of a Power of Attorney based on the State you have chosen.
- The general power of attorney form must be executed with the proper formalities. The signatures needed from the principal, witnesses, and the notary’s public signatures are some of the formalities required in a general power of attorney.
- The general power of attorney form must contain the specific required language.
- The principal must appoint an appropriate agent who should accept the appointment. The requirements of an agent must be observed and he or she must sign the document to show acceptance of the responsibility.
- The principal should be able to get into a contract. He or she should be of sound mind and legal mental capacity. He or she must also sign the contract to indicate their capability.
- The principal should have the ability to understand the nature and consequences of the contract as he or she prepares a general power of attorney form.
How to Get a General Power of Attorney
There are three steps that one should follow to get a general power of attorney:
Step 1: Decide powers
You must first identify the powers you wish to grant your Attorney-in-Fact or agent. Since this is a general power of attorney, you as the principal need to read through the sixteen powers available thoroughly. If the powers you wish to designate to the agent are lacking, you can always add it to “Other” and describe what you require from your agent.
Through the general power of attorney, there are several duties that the agent might be tasked to handle by you as the principal.
Some of these duties include:
- Entering, terminating and negotiating contracts
- Managing the principal’s finance and taxes
- Dealing with both real and personal property in terms of acquiring, leasing or even selling
- Lending and borrowing loans in the name of the principal
- Manage any medical decisions like admissions and discharges to medical facilities
- Handling any banking needs like opening and closing accounts, managing checks, making deposits and withdrawals etc.
- Purchasing gifts, employ professionals and buy, sell or trade any of your personal property.
- Making decisions that you as the principal would make if you were present.
Step 2: Select agent
After identifying the powers you wish to designate, you should then go ahead and choose your Attorney-in-Fact or agent. Ensure the person you choose as your Attorney-in-Fact is trustworthy, reliable, coherent, and of proper health and age. Always keep in mind that the agent you choose can ruin your life with the powers you give to him or her.
Therefore, carefully select an agent who will uphold your wishes and interests. You can list two agents for precaution’s sake. This way, in case the primary Attorney-in-Fact is unavailable, dead or any other issue arises around him or her, you still have another agent that can act on your behalf.
Step 3: Execute
This is the final step you must follow for you to get the general power of attorney. Fill in the general power of attorney form. After filling this form, you as the principal and your chosen agent must sign the form. Two witnesses and a notary’s public signature will also be required to make the document complete, legal, and effective.
Preparing a General Power of Attorney Form
If you are a prospective client looking to attain a general power of attorney, here is how to draft a general power of attorney form that you can use.
Consider your State
You must first find the appointment template or general power of attorney form that you will use to delegate your general principal powers to an agent. Such templates or forms can be obtained in your State or Locality. Ensure you confirm that the template or form is from your State as the durable signing laws demand.
Failure to observe your State laws will render your final filled general power of attorney form invalid. Also, you can access the template or form and fail to fill it. Instead, you can opt to use it to guide you in drafting your own general power of attorney form.
Title and introduction
The first paragraph on the general power of attorney form is a vital statement and must be filled correctly by you as the principal. The first part should go just below the title. The section requires you to state your full name as the principal. Write your name as they appear in your official documents.
Your full address will then be required in the general power of attorney form. Write your street address, city, and state of residence in the next three blank spaces that follow. After that, fill in the Attorney-in Fact’s or Agent’s name in the blank space indicated “Attorney-in-Fact’s Name.” This individual will be responsible for what you as the Principal delegates to them in this paperwork.
Continue to provide full and correct information of the Attorney-in-Fact. The next three blank spaces in this section of a general power of attorney form will require you to fill in the agent’s street address, city, and State of residence. Ensure you use the addresses on the agent’s identification on the general power of attorney form.
I, _________________, the Principal, of ________________ [street address], City of ________________, State of ___________________, hereby designate ________________, [attorney-in-fact’s name], of ___________________ [street address], City of _______________, State of ___________________, my attorney-in-fact (hereinafter my “attorney-in-fact”), to act as set forth below, in my name, in my stead and for my benefit, hereby revoking any and all powers of attorney I may have executed in the past.
Assess the powers, decide and then authorize
This part of any general power of attorney form deals with the rights that you are granting your Attorney-in-Fact by assigning them the principal power you have over several matters of your choosing. The general power of attorney form highlights and describes these matters in the section titled “I. Powers.”
You should thoroughly and carefully read this section. In case there is an item(s) that describes what you would like your agent to have the authority to represent you, then you should place your initials on the blank space that appears before the item. After completing and signing the general power of attorney form, the principal powers given to the Attorney-in-Fact are those that bear your initials as the principal.
At the end of the list of powers you can choose from is a part titled “Other Power To Conduct The Following:” followed by a blank space. Here, you as the principal are given room to expound on any other principal powers you would wish to assign your Attorney-in-Fact. You can describe other appointments of power on the empty line and then initial the space before the word “Other.” on the general power of attorney form.
You might need more space to detail the extra appointments you are designating for your agent. If that is the case, as the principal, you are allowed to attach additional paperwork. Ensure you refer to the attachment by name in the blank space.
State the location and time
You will be required to specify the location and time that this document will take effect. In the section titled “II. Interpretation And Governing Law,” the document will offer and require information from you as the principal. On the general power of attorney form, this section will offer a blank space where you will be required to fill in the name of a State. The State you choose is where this document will be enforced and treated by the local jurisdiction. Ensure you read the information in this section thoroughly. It will define how the State you choose will rule over this appointment.
In the section titled “III. Effective Date and Termination,” you will have five statements to review. You must place your initials before these two, the date of effect and that of termination, to outline when the Attorney-in-Fact may start using the authority given to them to represent you.
Our article will break down for you what each of the five statements means before you decide to initial them as required when filling the general power of attorney form. Each statement highlights when the principal powers will become accessible to your Attorney-in-Fact.
Initial the first statement if the principal powers you have designated to your agent become accessible as soon as you sign the appointment. Initial the second statement if your authority is usable upon a specific date. Ensure you indicate the calendar date in the last two blank spaces in this statement.
The remaining three statements on the general power of attorney form require information on how and when you decide to terminate the principal authority you have assigned to your Attorney-in-Fact. If you wish to terminate these principal powers on a specific date, then initial the statement that starts with “On the Following date” and indicate the calendar date in the two blank spaces in this option.
If you intend to terminate these principal powers through writing a revocation, then initial the statement, “When I have Made a Written Revocation.” Initial the last option if you wish for the principal powers to be terminated automatically when a physician has rendered you incapacitated or unable to communicate.
Verify your intent to designate these powers
So far, you have been able to identify your Attorney-in-Fact, establish the authority you have given them, define the State, and establish when he or she can act on your behalf and when the powers will be terminated. For this part, you need to solidify your approval of the document.
In the section in the general power of attorney form titled “IV. Third-Party Reliance,” indicate the date you are signing this general power of attorney form on the blank spaces in the final statement here. Sign and print your name in the spaces indicated “Principal Signature” and “Print Name,” respectively. As the principal, you should do this in the presence of two witnesses and a presiding notary republic.
In the section of “Acceptance of Appointment,” the Attorney-in-Fact’s name should be indicated on the blank space of the acknowledgment statement. After that, your Attorney-in-Fact should verify by signing and printing his or her name on the “Attorney-in-Fact” and “Print Name” lines on the general power of attorney form.
The two witnesses should sign their name, print their name, and indicate the addresses on the blank spaces labeled “Witness Signature, Print Name, and Address.” The testimony of the two witnesses occurs on the statement “We, The Witnesses, Each Do Hereby Declare…”
The notary public should sign the final part of the general power of attorney form. The particular entity will produce several facts to the “Acknowledgement of Notary Public” area. Also, he or she should sign their name and provide the required credentials for the notarization process.
Free General POA Forms
Following are free editable general power of attorney form templates that can be customized after being downloaded:
As the principal, always remember that different States have different General Power of Attorney forms. The laws governing each of the States will determine how your general power of attorney will be executed. Therefore, when you want to access a general power of attorney form to use or fill out, ensure you confirm the regulations of the State you choose in regards to the general power of attorney.
Agent’s Liability Under a General Power of Attorney
When an agent accepts the responsibilities and signs the general power of attorney, a fiduciary relationship between the agent and the principal is created. The agent becomes the legal person who is fully trusted by the principal to act on their behalf for their benefit.
The agent is liable to the principal regarding the care of the property and financial matters. The agent must remain prudent. The agent must make decisions that benefit the principal when handling the principal’s financial matters. Violation of these standards makes the agent liable to the principal.
Revoking a General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney does expire or get terminated. With the termination of a general power of attorney, the agent’s principal powers automatically cease.
A general power of attorney terminates when either of the following occurs:
- The principal dies or is declared incapacitated due to illness, injury or any other causes
- The principal lacks a co-agent who can serve on his or her behalf after the original agent’s principal authority terminates
- The objective, as agreed between the principal and the agent, has been fulfilled.
- The principal or a court order revokes the Power of Attorney.
A principal may wish to revoke a Power of Attorney because:
- The agent of Attorney-in-Fact has moved far away
- The Attorney-in-Fact has become untrustworthy
- The connection between the principal and the agent has changed
- The objective of the Power of Attorney has been accomplished.
Note: As a principal, you can revoke the Power of Attorney at any time for any reason. However, creating a new Power of Attorney does not revoke a previous Power of Attorney. You must write a letter that highlights your desire to revoke a Power of Attorney. This makes it possible to revoke the general power of attorney document.
Summary of the whole article will be as:
• A general power of attorney authorizes an agent to act on behalf of a principal.
• It also allows the principal to choose an agent or Attorney-in-Fact.
• With a general power of attorney, you can decide how long you would wish the agent to act on your behalf.
• Having a general power of attorney enables you as the principal to choose the powers you wish to give your agent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I do a general power of attorney myself without a lawyer?
You can create a general power of attorney yourself without a lawyer. Ensure that the general Power of Attorney Form you create meets the State’s requirements. There is no need for you to create a power of attorney in the presence of a lawyer or have it reviewed by one. However, ensure you are well-advised when creating and signing a Power of Attorney. Remember that you are handing over principal authority to an agent.
Does a power of attorney need to be notarized?
A Power of Attorney needs to be notarized for the document to become legally binding. The Power of Attorney becomes authentic if a notary’s public signature from the chosen state is present on the document.
Can a power of attorney be changed without consent?
A Power of Attorney cannot be changed without consent. As the principal, you must agree to change the powers given to your agent and also create a new Power of Attorney for the same.
Can a power of attorney change a will?
A Power of Attorney cannot change a will. An agent has principal powers that do not overlap with one’s will and testament. They cannot change or revise the principal’s will. Only the person who drafted the will can change it.
Where can I get a general power of attorney form?
A general power of attorney Form can be gotten from your State government offices or State websites or from your lawyer. You can also access a general power of attorney form by downloading our free templates.
How should I choose an attorney-in-fact?
For you to choose an Attorney-in-Fact, you must consider certain legal requirements apart from your personal preferences. Your Attorney-in-Fact should be an adult, that is, he or she should have attained the age of majority in your chosen State. Also, the agent should not be in a state of bankruptcy or be the owner or employee of a care home that is the residence of the principal.
A principal should follow the following when appointing an agent?
Before you select an agent, ensure you observe the following as the principal. Select an agent that is trustworthy. You are handing over principal powers to this agent and he or she could choose to ruin you. Therefore, select an agent that is trustworthy.
Also, pick an individual with financial experience. You cannot appoint someone to act on your behalf when it comes to financial matters and yet they lack the needed experience. The agent you select should be able to manage your personal finances. They should deal with issues like taxes, banking, and investments.
Finally, as a principal, you should consider the agent’s geographical position when appointing them. Different geographical positions, whether a State or territory, have different laws that govern the general power of attorney.
It would therefore be wise to choose an Attorney-in-Fact who lives in the State where your property is. This way, you are sure that the agent has an idea of the laws that govern the Power of Attorney in their geographical position.
Should an agent always be compensated?
Yes, an agent under the General Power of Attorney should always be reasonably compensated but only if the principal opts to do so. Compensation depends on the duties that you as the principal have assigned to the agent and the area you live in. The agent is entitled to compensation for any incurred expenses and fees.
Each state has its own guidelines when it comes to compensating an agent. Ensure you check these guidelines to know how to compensate your agent. In other cases, however, the General Power of Attorney might prohibit any form of compensation.