A Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs

You can give another person the legal authority to take care of some or all of your financial affairs for you by signing a legal document called a Power of Attorney. A power of attorney may be useful to you if you are physically unable to take care of some of your business yourself. For example, if you are unable to go to your bank, you can use a power of attorney to allow someone else to do your banking for you. A power of attorney may also be useful in planning for the possibility of a long-term illness. For example, you can sign a power of attorney now, which can allow someone else to handle your finances later on if you become ill and cannot continue to take care of your own affairs.

In a power of attorney, you can grant a broad range of authority to the person you name to act for you, or, you can limit the authority you give. You can specify that the power of attorney shall take effect immediately or at some future date. You do not need to have a power of attorney witnessed. You must have it notarized if you intend to use the power of attorney to allow the person you name to transfer title to real property for you, in which case you must record it with the county.

You must be mentally competent at the time you sign the power of attorney. If you sign a power of attorney while you are competent, the authority you give can continue in effect even if you later become incompetent. The authority given by a power of attorney ends at death, so you can not use it as a substitute for a will.

You do not give up your right to take care of your own financial affairs by signing a power of attorney. You can end, or revoke, the authority you have given under a power of attorney at any time. To revoke your power of attorney, you should notify in writing the person you named to act for you, and you should send copies of your written revocation to anyone with whom the person you named did business for you, such as your bank. If you recorded your power of attorney with the county, you should file a copy of your written revocation with that office.

Be sure you can trust the person you name to act for you. If you are not sure if signing a power of attorney is a good idea, or if you have some misgivings about the person you have in mind, don't do it. In every case, it is a good idea to get advice from an attorney before you sign a power of attorney.

Below is a sample power of attorney that gives broad authority. The authority given in the sample takes effect immediately. The authority continues indefinitely, until such time as it is revoked. This sample is not intended to be appropriate for everyone or for every situation. If you are considering signing a power of attorney, you should consult your own attorney for advice.

Power of Attorney Example

I, William Johnson, appoint Mary Johnson as my attorney in fact.

I give Mary Johnson full power and authority to perform any and all acts necessary to be done on my behalf, as fully as I might or could do if personally present.

This power shall take effect immediately and shall continue until such time as it is revoked in writing.

DATED May 14, 2010.


William Smith
County of Whatcom  
Subscribed and sworn to before me on May 14, 2010
Notary Public

My commission expires:
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