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How to Get a Power of Attorney: Common Steps

Life’s so unpredictable. You never know what might strike you or your close ones tomorrow. So what to do whenever you or your relatives or friends lose mental capacity, becoming unable to make financial and welfare decisions? This is the time when a power of attorney (LPA) comes in.

If you have wondered how to get power of attorney for someone close to you, this article is what you’ve been looking for. Below, you’ll learn what a power of attorney is, the various types of POA, and how to give and get a power of attorney. 

What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

Before you learn how to get power of attorney over someone, let’s review what is a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document used to give another person the right to make decisions and handle legal matters on behalf of the person giving that power. A person who gives another person the power to make important decisions is called the principal or grantor. The person granted the power to make decisions on the principal or grantor’s behalf is the agent or attorney-in-fact.

A principal can only grant a power of attorney if they are competent to do so. If a person has become incompetent, another person may not make their legal decisions without going through a more costly and complicated legal conservatorship process to have a court grant that power. This process includes filing a petition with the court, a legal assessment, and a determination of incapacitation. The legal costs of these transactions can be substantial and often include a guardianship fee. So, how to get a POA for someone begins first with a person’s capacity.

It is also essential to know that, by law, the power granted by the power of attorney document ends when the principal revokes the power or the principal dies. The agent no longer has legal permission to act on behalf of the deceased person’s estate unless they are named as the executor of the deceased person’s estate by will or appointed by a court. 

A power of attorney can be for limited purposes or very broad purposes. Sometimes a power of attorney is for a short period of time or for one-time use. Other times a power of attorney is for indefinite periods of life. There are many different types of power of attorney, including the following:

  • Durable Power of Attorney;
  • Non-Durable Power of Attorney;
  • Medical Power of Attorney;
  • General Power of Attorney;
  • Financial Power of Attorney; and
  • Springing Power of Attorney.

You can learn all the significant information about this legal document and get your Power of Attorney Form & Sample to ensure the document you need addresses all your legal needs and helps to stay protected. 

What Are Power of Attorney Rights and Limitations?

The rights and power given to an agent depend upon the type of power of attorney document. The document should explicitly state the powers granted to the agent to act on the principal’s behalf. A power of attorney may be broad and give the agent the ability to work in all matters on the principal’s behalf. It may also be limited to just one act or one type of action. 

In some states, a broad and general power of attorney is not sufficient to take some actions. For example, for the power to sell a property for the principal, the document must specifically and explicitly grant permission in most states. It’s essential to know the local laws governing your jurisdiction. 

The agent’s power to act is limited to the principal’s life, and the principal can revoke it at any time while they are still competent. The agent must act as a fiduciary (a trusted person) to the principal and has an obligation to act at all times in the principal’s best interest, including the principal’s financial interest. How you get power of attorney will depend on the type of POA agreement needed for your circumstances. 

Different Types of Powers of Attorney

There are many different types of powers of attorney. A principal can be as specific and narrow or as broad as they would like when granting powers to their agent. Some of the most common types of powers of attorney and their uses are discussed below. 

Non-durable power of attorney

A non-durable power of attorney becomes effective immediately but terminates upon the principal’s incapacity. 

Durable power of attorney

A durable power of attorney grants the agent power to act immediately and remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. These types of power of attorney are usually broad, including authorizing the agent to file criminal charges for abuse claims or to file suit for damages sustained in accidents. 

Medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney grants an agent the power to act on behalf of the principal to make medical decisions. It may become effective immediately or only upon a triggering event. 

General power of attorney

A general power of attorney can grant the agent power to act for the principal. It usually becomes effective immediately; however, it terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated

Financial power of attorney

A financial power of attorney grants authority to the agent to act for  the principal in financial matters. It may be limited to only certain accounts or be broad to include all financial matters and settlement of debt obligations and monetary affairs. Sometimes, a financial power of attorney gives an agent access to the principal’s financial accounts, including the right to pay off or refinance the mortgage on the principal’s home. 

Springing power of attorney

A springing power of attorney is not immediately effective. It only becomes effective upon an event, such as a certain age of the principal or upon the principal’s incapacity. 

How to Get a Power of Attorney – Step by Step

So, how to obtain power of attorney? The steps for how to become power of attorney are generally straightforward:

  1. Name your power of attorney agent (sometimes called a proxy);
  2. Consult with an attorney who specializes in probate or family law;
  3. Decide the type and extent of power you want to grant to your agent;
  4. Have your document drafted and finalized;
  5. Execute your power of attorney;
  6. Deliver copies of your properly executed power of attorney to relevant parties; and
  7. Periodically review your document and update, if necessary.

Name your agent or proxy

Determining who should be appointed as your agent is one of the most important legal decisions you may ever make. Your agent or proxy is the person you appoint to make legal, financial, or health care decisions on your behalf. Many people choose to appoint their spouse or life partner, an adult child, or other close relatives as their agent. Some principals choose to appoint more than one person as their agent. When choosing an agent, you should only appoint a person you trust completely. 

Schedule a meeting with a family law or probate attorney

It is wise to consult an attorney with experience in family or probate law when considering how to use a power of attorney. Your attorney can answer all your questions about how to get a power of attorney to protect someone. Moreover, having a competent attorney create this document provides peace of mind that your power of attorney will be valid and useful when the time comes to use it. Even if you decide to draft the document yourself, an attorney can explain the relevant law and answer any questions you may have. An experienced attorney can provide valuable advice when making this important legal decision. 

Decide the type and extent of power to grant your agent

You may want to give your agent the power to act in all legal matters for you, or you may only want to provide a limited power of attorney. For example, you may wish to grant the power immediately or have the power of attorney take effect only upon your incapacity. Therefore, it is vital that you understand the various types of powers of attorney documents and how much power you want to grant your agent. An experienced Lawrina attorney can help you understand your options and answer your questions about this important decision. 

Have your document drafted and finalized

Whether you have an attorney draft your power of attorney or you do it yourself, you want to carefully review the draft, make any necessary changes, and finalize the document for execution.

Execute your power of attorney document

Once your power of attorney document is final, it is time to sign it. Be sure to properly execute it before a notary and witnesses. It is crucial that you execute the power of attorney document according to your state’s legal requirements and the witness signings are completed properly.

Deliver copies of your power of attorney to relevant parties

Once you have properly executed your power of attorney, you need to give a copy to all necessary parties. Of course, you will need to provide your agent with a certified copy of the power of attorney document. However, it is wise to also provide a copy to other relevant parties that your agent will likely deal with. For example, if your agent has a financial power of attorney, you will want to provide your financial institutions with a copy of the document. Likewise, if your agent has the authority to make medical decisions, you should provide a copy of the power of attorney to your doctor.  

Review your power of attorney and make necessary changes

It is important to occasionally review your power of attorney to determine whether any changes or updates are necessary. If your life circumstances have changed since making your power of attorney, you may want to consider whether your previous wishes still accurately reflect your current wishes. It is easy to make any desired changes or make a withdrawal of powers as long as you are still legally competent. 

All these steps will give you the answer to “how do you get power of attorney?”

Required Documents 

How to do power of attorney agreement? To create a power of attorney document, you need to present valid photo identification to prove you are the person named in the document as the principal or grantor. Any witnesses unknown to the notary also need to present valid identification prior to executing a power of attorney. 

There are several legal documents that you may want to consider for estate-planning purposes. 

Power of attorney

The power of attorney document is the foundational document that gives your agent legal power to make decisions for you.

Physician’s directives

Another legal document you may want to consider is a physician’s directive. It provides the principal with the ability to make a health declaration to be followed in a given situation. This document instructs your medical provider regarding health care treatments you are willing to accept and those you wish to refuse in specific circumstances and events.

Do not resuscitate

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) is a document that directs your medical provider that you do not wish to remain on life support or do not wish to be resuscitated and under what circumstances the DNR is effective.

Medical authorizations

Due to HIPAA regulations, medical providers cannot release your medical 

information to another person unless you have signed a proper medical authorization or release. You may want to sign a HIPAA medical authorization ahead of time to grant your agent the right to receive your private medical information.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Power of Attorney?

The cost of creating a power of attorney depends on several factors. You may draft the document yourself if you are confident in your understanding of the legal requirements. If you choose to do it yourself, you may only need to pay the cost of having the document notarized. However, a power of attorney is a vital and powerful document and having an attorney create your document is usually the wisest choice.

Attorney fees for creating a power of attorney vary depending on the attorney’s experience, location, and area of expertise. Generally, attorneys often charge between $250 and $800 for a power of attorney. These costs usually include:

  • A consultation;
  • Drafting the document;
  • Meeting to review and discuss the draft;
  • Revision and finalization of the document;
  • Execution of the document before witnesses and notary.

There may be additional legal documents you’d like to consider when creating a power of attorney. An experienced estate, family, or probate attorney can help you understand the various documents and determine which may be applicable to your situation. 

Do You Need a Lawyer to Give Someone Power of Attorney?

While you can create a valid power of attorney without a lawyer, consulting an attorney is well worth the cost to ensure the document is proper and fully expresses your desires. Consulting with an attorney helps you understand the types of powers of attorney, answers your questions about each, and helps you determine your options and needs. 

Final Remarks

A power of attorney is an essential legal document that grants an agent the power to make legal decisions on behalf of a principal. It is important to understand the various types of powers of attorney and to carefully consider who you should appoint as your agent. You should consult with an experienced attorney to understand your options and determine your needs to know for 100% how to get poa of someone.

Article by James Finsweet

James Finsweet is a Head of legal department in LawBrother Ltd. At Lawrina, James contributes his experience in law practice and shares opinions on law regulations and news.

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