A power of attorney document allows you to give your legal authority to another person. Making it official takes only a few steps.
- Step 1: Decide what type of power of attorney you need. Both durable and nondurable power of attorney take effect immediately, but only durable continues if you are incapacitated.
- TIP: Use nondurable power of attorney for short term or specific transactions, like allowing someone else to sign for you when you are buying real estate.
- Step 2: Select someone to be your agent -- the person who will have the power to make legal decisions for you. Choose someone you know well and trust to carry out your wishes.
- Step 3: Draft a power of attorney document, listing the agent and clearly stating the authority you are granting them.
- TIP: Have a lawyer draft the power of attorney. While it's not required in most states, it ensures you have addressed all of the issues.
- Step 4: Get your power of attorney signed by a notary public and witnesses by two people. Both you and your agent should sign it as well.
- Step 5: Complete any other forms that your state or county requires for filing a power of attorney. Check with your county clerk's office for more information.
- TIP: Check your public library for books that contain sample power of attorney forms. Use the language in these books to model your document if you choose not to use a lawyer.
- Step 6: Make notarized copies of the power of attorney for you and your agent. If you use a lawyer, make sure they have a copy as well.
- Step 7: File your power of attorney with the appropriate government office, typically the county clerk for real estate sales. In some cases, just having the document notarized makes it legal.
- FACT: The American Bar Association is the world's largest voluntary professional association with over 400,000 members.