Power of Attorney - Guidelines and Templates
What are the legal requirements for a power
of attorney (POA)?
This document need not be done by a lawyer. However, you have to
be sure that you understand all the implications and fully trust
your choice of Agent (Attorney-in-Fact).
Having said that, getting your POA drafted by a lawyer is not a
very expensive exercise. Get quotes from reputable law firms in
your area to help you make a decision.
If you want to make your own POA using any of our free legal
forms, then refer to the checklist further down on this page to
ensure you comply with the legal requirements for a power of
We supply the following free
- General POA;
- Durable or
- Limited or special POA forms which can be used for finances
and tax returns, the buying / selling or managing of real
estate, empowering your agent to buy/sell a vehicle, boat or
motorcycle on your behalf;
- Medical POA;
- Revocation form, etc.
For links to their legal guidelines more free forms
and, please refer to our Main
Who can Execute a POA and Who can be Appointed as Agent or
- For your document to be valid, you must be of legal age and
mentally competent to execute such a document.
- The person you appoint as your Agent must be a legal adult.
- You can name more than one Agent but you must specify whether
they must make the decisions:
Jointly - Neither can act without agreement
from the other (this can create practical and/or legal
Jointly and Severally - They can make decisions
together and they can do it separately.
- You should name an alternative / substitute in case the Agent
you appointed is unable or unwilling to serve.
Who can Sign as Witnesses
- The power of attorney must be signed in the presence
of two independent witnesses. The legal requirements for POA
They must be of legal age.
They must not be related by blood, marriage, adoption or in
childcare of either the Principal or Agent.
The Agent can not sign as witness.
- The document must be notarized by a notary public or
commissioner of oath.
- You can produce several originals and have them witnessed and
notarized, otherwise copies must be certified.
How Long does a POA Last
- A POA always become null and void upon your death or on the
expiration date specified in the document. It also becomes null
and void when you become incapacitated unless
you specifically added the statement "Durable Power of
- If a POA has been filed or recorded for real estate purposes
and is revoked at a later stage, it is important to have the
revocation filed and recorded as well.
- A POA becomes effective upon your signing of the document. If
you want it to become effective only later if/when you
become incapacitated (a "Springing Power of Attorney"), you must
define how you must be judged incapacitated and grant permission
for physicians to pronounce you so.
- In most states and countries if a spouse was named an Agent in
a POA, it will cease on divorce or filing for divorce, unless
specified otherwise. To be safe, you should issue a revocation
and compile a new POA document.
- You must make a statement that you revoke any prior POA
documents should they exist.
What is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and an
Executor and a Trustee
1. Very simply, a Power of Attorney allows for someone to act on
your behalf and according to your wishes (if you are still
mentally competent), whilst you are still alive.
2. Upon your death, the POA expires and now the Executor will
take over and wind up your estate according to your wishes as set
out in your Last Will and
3. IF you made provision for a Testamentary
Trust in your Will, then a Trustee will administer the
assets in such a Trust (created after your death) until the
conditions as specified by you in your will have been met.
What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Conservatorship?
All the information pertaining to the various Power of Attorney
forms that you can complete, is based on one very important
premise, and that being that the person executing the POA must
have full mental capacity to understand the legal document.
However, if a person is incapacitated, then a judge can appoint a
guardian or conservator to oversee his affairs. In
some instances, this person may also be called a curator.
Visit our page on Adult
Guardianship where we discuss this in depth.
We will show you the difference between guardianship
and conservatorship and show examples of the legal process
to obtain special guardianship orders.