How to Become the Power of Attorney for a Relative

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Power of attorney is an agreement between two parties that lets one party (the agent) act in the place of another (the principal.) Although power of attorney doesn't take away the principal's right to make decisions on his behalf, the agent now has the right to make financial, legal or medical decisions alongside the principal. Power of attorney agreements between relatives are common, especially for the elderly or the disabled. Anyone who needs someone else to handle important business or legal matters for them can benefit from a power of attorney.

  • Talk to your relative about your reasons for wanting to be her power of attorney. Discuss your intents and her wishes thoroughly until you come to an agreement.

  • Ask your legal representation to draw up a power of attorney document naming you as the agent and your relative as the principal. Make sure the document outlines any limitations on the power, including the areas you may act for your relative or the dates the power is valid.

  • Sign the document in the presence of a notary public and ask your relative to do the same. Have two witnesses sign the document at the same time if your state requires it.

  • Notify all interested parties about the power of attorney, including your relative's bank, his lawyer or his doctor. Show the original power of attorney document to the interested parties, but only leave a copy of it for their records. Store your original document in a safe place.

Tips & Warnings

  • You must have your relative's consent to become her power of attorney agent. Although your relative can give you power of attorney that specifies that it stays in effect while she is mentally incapacitated, you can't start one while she is mentally incapacitated because she doesn't have the power to give consent. To make decisions for someone without her consent requires a conservatorship, which is granted only after a legal hearing to establish cause.
  • The laws can vary slightly by state. Consult a legal professional licensed in the appropriate state to understand the specific laws of your state.
  • This information is intended for general information purposes and should not be taken as legal counsel.

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