Many people find it convenient to have someone act on their behalf, either under specific circumstances or more broadly. The legal authorization involved is called power of attorney. The first step toward giving someone power of attorney is learning how to obtain power of attorney to develop an awareness of how power of attorney is granted, accepted, and used. Talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer about the process to obtain a power of attorney by calling our legal team at the Law Office of Jason Carr today at (214) 800-2366.
How to Obtain Power of Attorney: The Steps
There is nothing complicated about obtaining power of attorney — it involves just a few basic steps.
Choosing An Agent
The first step is for the person giving power of attorney (the principal) to choose an agent (the person who will receive the power). Before coming to a decision, it is necessary to have a conversation with the person the principal would like to be an agent. The two should discuss what becoming an agent will entail and whether the prospective agent is willing to take on the duties. Their decision may depend on what powers the principal wants to give the agent, which could include medical and financial decisions.
Completing and Filing Documents
Next, the principal will need to complete power of attorney paperwork. Texas Health and Human Services provides downloadable versions of the necessary forms. For medical power of attorney, it is necessary for both principal and agent to sign the forms in the presence of either a notary public or two witnesses, whose signatures may also be required.
Lastly, the agent and principal should both receive a copy of the power of attorney form. The best place to keep these forms is with other estate planning documentation. In some instances, it may also be beneficial to provide other parties, such as financial institutions and the physician of the principal, with copies of the signed and dated paperwork.
Sometimes changes in circumstances, for either the principal or the agent, may make it advisable to change power of attorney documents in the future. Ideally, the principal should review the forms every three to five years, as well as after any major alterations in their own or the agent’s life circumstances.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Power of Attorney?
Anyone can set up power of attorney—there is no requirement to receive assistance from a legal professional. However, since this is an important decision, it is crucial that both parties are fully aware of the implications of what they are signing, including the risks. For this reason, individuals concerned about how to obtain power of attorney, or interested in how to successfully grant power of attorney to someone else, may wish to seek legal counsel. Contact the Law Office of Jason Carr for advice about setting up power of attorney.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Power of Attorney?
In Texas, the documentation granting power of attorney is itself free. However, principals may incur costs if they use a lawyer to ensure their documentation is as they intended; they may also need to pay a fee if they require the services of a notary to witness signatures. The cost for an attorney’s services in preparing the documents will depend on the law firm, but typical fees may run between $100 and $200. The maximum that notaries in Texas are allowed to charge for various services is specified in Texas Government Code § 406.024, although all fees are no more than a few dollars.
What Is General Power of Attorney?
General power of attorney means an agent can take any legal action that is normally the right of the principal. This includes:
- Managing bank accounts
- Buying and selling investments
- Taking action based on the principal’s contractual rights
- Suing on behalf of the agent
- Cashing checks
What Is the Best Power of Attorney to Have?
General power of attorney is just one option. Depending on the circumstances, another type may be better. In Texas, this includes the following.
Medical Power of Attorney
With medical power of attorney, an agent is only able to make healthcare decisions when the principal is unable to voice his or her wishes due to mental or physical incapacity. This includes choices about treatment, surgery, end-of-life care, medications, and more.
Statutory Power of Attorney
Financial decisions fall under statutory power of attorney. This can be useful if the principal wants a trusted person to carry out routine financial tasks, such as paying bills, collecting benefits, and managing real estate. In Texas, statutory power of attorney does not give an agent the power to make changes to a principal’s estate plan, unless the principal specifically provides the agent with this power. Similarly, agents will not be able to gift the principal’s property (including money and real property), change property agreements, or change beneficiaries on insurance policies if these powers are not explicitly mentioned. Some powers are always unavailable, including making or changing a will and voting in public elections.
In some cases, an individual may wish to grant statutory power of attorney and medical power of attorney to separate agents. In general, there is no need for medical staff to be aware of the principal’s financial wishes nor for banks to know a principal’s health wishes.
Durable Power of Attorney
With durable power of attorney, the agent maintains general power of attorney if the principal becomes incapacitated. This is typically part of a larger estate plan. When power of attorney is not durable, it ends if the principal is incapacitated.
Springing Power of Attorney
It is also possible for a principal to only give power of attorney if he or she becomes incapacitated. This is called springing power of attorney. Many lawyers who specialize in estate law avoid springing power of attorney because it can be complicated to determine when to implement the power. If the activation of springing power of attorney is dependent upon two physicians declaring the principal incapacitated, there could be disagreement. Furthermore, the circumstances in which it makes sense to give an agent power of attorney only when the principal is incapacitated and not before are relatively limited.
Limited Power of Attorney
To give an agent power for just specific matters, a principal can choose limited or special power of attorney. The agent will only be able to carry out activities to the extent the principal authorizes or within a particular timeframe.
Legal Support to Obtain Power of Attorney
Simply knowing how to obtain power of attorney does not mean the process will be easy. The principal will still need to decide on the right type of power of attorney, both the principal and their agent will need to complete all the paperwork. The process can be much easier with the support of an experienced professional. Receive the advice you need to start the process by scheduling a consultation with the Law Office of Jason Carr. Call us today at (214) 800-2366.