A general power of attorney form allows a person (“agent”) and make financial decisions for someone else (“principal”). It is a non-durable form that automatically cancels immediately if the principal should become incapacitated. Although, the form must be signed in the same method as a Durable Power of Attorney with two (2) witnesses, a notary public, or both.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A general power of attorney is a legal document allowing a person (“principal”) to select someone else to make any type of financial decisions on their behalf. The form must be signed in accordance with State law and afterward can be used by the agent.
A general power of attorney is non-durable, meaning it will terminate immediately after a principal becomes incapacitated or can no longer think for themselves.
- Step 1 – Select an Agent
- Step 2 – Choose Powers
- Step 3 – Write the Form
- Step 4 – Sign the Power of Attorney
Obtaining general power of attorney is as easy as selecting someone to be your “agent”, completing the form, and signing in accordance with State law. Obviously, there is some critical thinking with each step as described below.
Step 1 – Select an Agent
The most important step is to choose an agent that will represent the principal’s financial interests. This type of power of attorney is common amongst business partners or anyone that would like representation for financial matters.
- Alternate Agent – An alternate or “secondary” agent can be selected if the primary agent is not available.
Step 2 – Choose Powers
The principal can select any type of financial power, including, but not limited to those listed in the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA):
- Real Property
- Tangible Personal Property
- Stocks and Bonds
- Commodities and Options
- Banks and Other Financial Institutions
- Operation of Entity or Business
- Insurance and Annuities
- Estates, Trusts, and Other Beneficial Interests
- Claims and Litigation
- Personal and Family Maintenance
- Benefits from Governmental Programs or Civil or Military Service
- Retirement Plans
In addition, the principal may include special powers to run a business, manage or sell property, and any other financial act legal under law.
Step 3 – Write the Form
The principal, along with the agent, should complete the power of attorney together. If there is anything the principal doesn’t understand they should seek legal counsel.
Step 4 – Sign the Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is required to be signed in the same format as a durable. Therefore, use the Signing Requirements which will most likely require two (2) witnesses or a notary public.
- Does a General Power of Attorney Need to be Registered?
- How to Cancel a General Power of Attorney?
- What’s the Difference between General and Durable Power of Attorney?
- Does a General Power of Attorney Need to be Notarized?
- What Does a General Power of Attorney Cover?
- Does a General Power of Attorney Cover Medical Decisions?
- How Long Does a General Power of Attorney Last?
In the majority of cases, no, a General POA does not need to be registered. A situation in which registering (recording) the POA is recommended is if the POA will be used for a real estate transaction. In this case, the principal should bring a copy of the Power of Attorney to their local register of deeds.
Canceling a power of attorney is a straightforward process. All the principal needs to do is:
- Download and complete a revocation of power of attorney form;
- Deliver a copy of the revocation to the agent;
- Send a copy to anyone else that received a copy of the POA (banks, post offices, etc.); and
- Tear up any remaining copies of the POA.
The major difference between a durable and general power of attorney is that a durable POA does not terminate if the principal becomes incapacitated. As such, durable forms are used when the principal wants to nominate someone to handle their finances should they be unable to communicate their wishes due to a severe medical event.
Possibly. Each state has their own power of attorney signing requirements.
Any and all matters, so long they aren’t medical-related. This can include powers regarding:
- Making payments and collecting owed money;
- Purchasing, selling, and leasing real and/or personal property;
- Managing the principal’s property;
- Banking matters;
- Safe-deposit boxes;
- Lending and borrowing;
- Entering into contracts;
- Health care (excluding actual medical decisions);
- HIPAA matters;
- Ability to hire and pay for various services;
- Reimbursing; and the
- Ability to sue those that do not recognize the power of attorney as valid.
A general power of attorney can last however long the principal decides. This can be days, months, and even years. Being a non-durable form, it will automatically terminate should the principal become incapacitated or die.
Prior to filling out the form, the principal should prepare by identifying someone they believe would make a great fit as their agent. They should then speak with their preferred agent to ask if they’d be willing to act in the role, are comfortable performing all of the actions required, and would sign the document when requested. If the agent is on-board for performing as the attorney-in-fact, the principal can begin completing the document.
- Step 1 – Principal + Agent
- Step 2 – Initialing Powers
- Step 3 – Interpretation and Governing Law
- Step 4 – Beginning & End Dates
- Step 5 – Principal’s Signature
- Step 6 – Agent’s Acceptance of Appointment
- Step 7 – Witness Signatures (if required)
- Step 8 – Notarization (if required)
At the top of the first (1st) page, the principal will need to provide both their name and address, and the name and full address of the agent they selected. To add more complete data, the principal can include the ZIP code in parentheses next to the state.
The principal will need to write their initials next to each power they wish to grant to the agent. If initials are not placed next to a power, the agent will NOT have the authority to perform actions regarding the power in question. If there are any miscellaneous power(s) the principal would like to grant to the agent, they can do so by writing their initials next to “Other” and writing the power(s) in detail on the three (3) lines provided.
Write the name of the state in which the principal resides on the single line provided. If the POA will be primarily used in another state, write the name of the state in which the agent will be exercising their power(s).
The date in which the POA is “effective” is the date in which the agent will be able to perform their assigned duties for the principal. For the effective date, the principal can initial only one (1) of the two options provided:
- Initial the first line for the POA to go into effect immediately after the principal’s signature is recorded; OR
- Initial the second line and write the day, month, and year in which the POA should begin.
If the principal wants the form to go into effect upon their incapacitation, a durable (financial) form should be used.
For the termination date, the principal can select any/all of the three (3) options provided:
- Initial the first line to specify an exact date for the POA to terminate. Include the day, month, and year in which the agent’s powers will be revoked.
- Initial the second line if the principal has the option to revoke the POA manually at any time. Even if this option is not selected, the principal can most likely still revoke the form through the use of an official POA revocation form.
- Initial the third (last) line to have the POA terminate in the event the principal suffers a medical event that leaves them unable to communicate/make decisions. Note: Because this is a non-durable form, even if this line is not initialed, the POA will still revoke should the principal become incapacitated.
The principal will need to write their signature onto the document in order for it to be usable by the agent. See the state signing requirements to ensure the form is signed per the requirements of the state in which the POA will be used. If the principal will be signing in view of a Notary Public and/or witness(es), they will need to wait to sign until they are in-view of one (1) or both parties. At the time of signing, the principal will need to write:
- The day, month, and year they are signing their name;
- Their signature (use eSign or handwrite the signature); and
- Their full printed name.
While not always a state requirement, the agent should sign the form to show they understand their role as the attorney-in-fact, and that they agree to uphold all responsibilities that goes along with the role. The agent will need to:
- Write their full name after “I,”;
- Sign their name electronically with eSign, or by printing the document and signing by hand; and
- Print their name beneath their signature.
The agent does not need to have their signature witnessed or notarized.
This section is to be completed by the witness(es) ONLY. Many states require the principal to have their signature witnessed by one (1) or more people. The witnesses should be over the age of eighteen (18+) and not be an agent of the principal. The notary cannot serve as a witness. Each witness will need to:
- Sign their name (if using eSign, the witness must be in the same room as the principal);
- Write their full printed name; and
- Write their mailing address on the two (2) lines provided.
This section is to be completed by a Notary Public ONLY. No instruction is necessary.