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Document and article by on November 13, 2023 Written by Easy Legal Docs Editorial Team

Discover the essentials of General Power of Attorney with our straightforward guide, complete with a downloadable template to help you get started.

What Is a General Power of Attorney?

A General Power of Attorney (POA) is a potent legal instrument that empowers an individual, referred to as the Agent, to make decisions and act on behalf of another, known as the Principal.

It is an essential part of legal and estate planning that ensures an individual’s affairs are managed according to their wishes should they become unable to do so themselves due to illness, absence, or incapacity.

Critical Functions of a General Power of Attorney

  • Financial Management: The Agent can handle banking, investment, and other financial transactions.
  • Business Affairs: They may operate a business, enter contracts, and manage day-to-day operations.
  • Property Transactions: The Agent is authorized to buy, sell, or manage real estate on the Principal’s behalf.

The Versatility of General Power of Attorney

Designed to be flexible, a POA can address a broad array of needs and scenarios. It is often utilized by individuals who:

  • Are undergoing medical procedures that may leave them incapacitated.
  • Have plans to travel abroad for extended periods.
  • Wish to ensure continuous management of their affairs without interruption.

How to Create a General Power of Attorney

Choosing the Right Agent

The foundation of a reliable POA lies in the selection of an Agent. It’s a decision that requires careful consideration. The chosen Agent should be:

  1. Reliable and trustworthy.
  2. Financially savvy, if dealing with economic matters.
  3. Willing to take on the responsibilities involved.

Legal Considerations

Creating a POA typically involves straightforward steps, but it must be compliant with state or country-specific legal requirements, which may include:

  • Notarization: Many states require a POA to be notarized to be legally binding.
  • Witnesses: Some jurisdictions may also require one or more witnesses to sign the document.
  • Legal Advice: Consulting with an attorney can ensure the POA meets all legal standards and truly reflects the Principal’s wishes.

Maintaining Control

It’s crucial to understand that a POA can be revoked. To retain a level of control, you should:

  • Regularly review the POA document.
  • Clearly outline the terms of revocation within the document.
  • Stay informed about your rights to revoke the authority granted.

Building a Clear and Strong General Power of Attorney

Communication Is Key

The document must communicate the Principal’s intentions unequivocally. To achieve this, the POA should:

  • Use clear, straightforward language.
  • Avoid legal jargon unless it is defined or explained.
  • Clearly outline the extent of the Agent’s powers.

What to Include and What to Avoid

A well-crafted POA should feature:

  • A precise definition of powers granted.
  • Specific start and end dates, if applicable.
  • Clarity on the Agent’s compensation, if any.

Conversely, it should avoid:

  • Ambiguities regarding the Agent’s authority.
  • Any instructions that are illegal or against public policy.
  • Provisions that are too rigid, limiting the Agent’s ability to act in unforeseen circumstances.

How to Use our Free Power of Attorney Template

Step 1: Fill in the Effective Date

Start by writing the date on which the Power of Attorney will become effective. This is typically the current date unless specified otherwise. For example, if today’s date is November 7, 2023, you would write “November 7, 2023”.

Step 2: Identify the Principal

Write your full legal name where [PRINCIPAL NAME] is indicated and your current address where [PRINCIPAL ADDRESS] is specified. Ensure the address includes your street name and number, city, state, and zip code.

Step 3: Designate Your Agent

Enter the full legal name of the person you are appointing as your Agent where [AGENT NAME] is listed. Following that, provide the Agent’s full address where [AGENT ADDRESS] is marked, just as you did for your own.

Step 4: Acknowledge the Appointment

Read the “Appointment of Agent” section thoroughly to understand the powers you are granting. By proceeding, you confirm the appointment of your chosen Agent.

Step 5: Understand the Powers Granted

Review the “Powers of Agent” section to ensure you’re comfortable with the authorities you’re providing. No changes are needed here unless you wish to customize the powers.

Step 6: Consider the Durability of the Document

This part confirms that the Power of Attorney will remain in effect even if you become incapacitated. No action is required here unless you wish to modify these terms.

Step 7: Acknowledge Third Party Rights

This clause protects those who rely on the Power of Attorney. It requires no input from you but ensure you understand its contents.

Step 8: Review the Revocation Terms

Understand how you can revoke this Power of Attorney. You do not need to write anything here but be aware of how to cancel the agreement if necessary.

Step 9: Comprehend the Governing Law

This section states that the document is subject to the laws where it is executed. No additional information is needed, but make sure you’re aware of the legal implications.

Step 10: Sign the Document

After carefully reviewing the entire document, sign your name where it says “Principal” and print your name and date below your signature.

Step 11: Have Your Agent Sign

The Agent must also sign and print their name, then date the document to acknowledge their acceptance of the responsibilities.

Step 12: Witness and Notarize

Finally, have two witnesses sign and print their names, acknowledging they have witnessed the signing of the document. Then, take the document to a notary public to have it notarized for legal recognition.

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Document Sample

General Power of Attorney Template

Below you can see a sample of the General Power of Attorney template:

Template General Power of Attorney

General Power of Attorney FAQs

What is a General Power of Attorney (POA)?

A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you (the Principal) to appoint someone else (the Agent) to manage your affairs if you're unable to do so.

Who can I choose as my Agent?

You can choose anyone you trust, such as a family member, friend, or professional advisor, to act as your Agent, as long as they are of legal age and capable of making decisions.

Can I limit the powers I give to my Agent?

Yes, you can limit the powers by specifying restrictions in the template; however, the provided template grants broad powers, so you would need to modify it accordingly.

Do I need a lawyer to complete the General POA?

It's not mandatory to have a lawyer, but it's recommended to consult one to ensure the document meets legal requirements and accurately reflects your wishes.

Is the POA valid in all states and countries?

The validity of the POA can vary. It's created to be widely applicable, but you should verify compliance with local laws, especially if used internationally.

How long is the POA effective?

The POA remains effective until you revoke it, you pass away, or it expires if a specific end date is set.

What should I do after completing the General POA template?

After filling out the template, have it signed by the required parties, witnessed, and notarized for it to be legally effective.

How can I ensure my Agent understands their role?

Discuss the POA with your chosen Agent, ensuring they understand the responsibilities and conditions of their role before they agree to act on your behalf.

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