Updated on January 25th, 2021

Free General Power of Attorney Forms

A general power of attorney allows an individual (the “Principal”) to select an individual (the “Agent”) to handle their financial affairs only. Unlike Durable Power of Attorney, the general does not allow the Agent to be able to make decisions on the Principal if he or she is not mentally capable (also known as incapacitated due to a coma, Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, etc).

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General Power of Attorney Forms – By State

Table of Contents

What is General Power of Attorney?

A general power of attorney allows a Principal to elect a legal representative, known as an “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”, to handle their financial decisions on their behalf while alive and competent. The Principal may allow the Agent to handle any type of monetary or financial related decision legally allowed by law. However, unlike the durable power of attorney, the general does not remain valid if the Principal should not be able to constructively think for themselves and on their own. This makes the general version popular amongst business partners or those willing to give rights to their financial decisions while the Principal is competent.

Does a General Power of Attorney need to be Registered?

No. The short answer is no but in applicable counties and jurisdictions, there are procedures the Principal may undertake to record the form publicly. What is most important for the form to become legal is to sign the form legally within the State. This can be done by following the durable power of attorney signing requirements which are applicable to all general power of attorney forms.

How to Get a General Power of Attorney

TL;DR: In order to successfully create a general power of attorney designation, the principal must find the proper form allowed in their State, discuss with someone they trust for the position of handling their financial duties, and sign in accordance with State law (usually in the presence of a notary public or witnesses). Upon completion, the agent selected will be required to show the form whenever their designation is to be used.

Step 1 – Choose Someone to be the Agent

Also referred to as an “attorney-in-fact”, this person is selected by the Principal to act as their lead representative to make any type of permitted financial transaction as approved in the general power of attorney. It should be discussed the role and the powers they may have and also that the designation is only valid during the time the principal is alive and competent.

  • Alternate Agents – In most States, it’s allowed to have an “alternate,” “secondary,” or successor,” agents that only are able to represent the Principal if the original agent selected is not able to present themselves.
  • Agents CANNOT Work Together – Due to an issue that may arise with the Agents not in agreement, a general power of attorney form does not allow agents to work together or co-agent decision-making.

It is highly recommended that the Principal select the same person as their agent that is mentioned in their Last Will & Testament. If not, ensure that the Agent is someone that can be trusted and that has a vested interest in Principal’s assets and property.

Step 2 – Find the Proper Form

Most States have their own laws and regulations regarding power of attorney. Therefore, it’s best for the Principal to obtain the form that is provided by the State, or other resources, and is applicable to current State statutes. The Principal may also want to look at the durable laws in the State to see if the form being valid if the Principal should become incapacitated is worth it to them in the State.

Step 3 – Deciding Financial Powers

About half the States in the USA follow the Uniform Power of Attorney Act which outlines the specific powers given to agents. The States that are not in compliance with the Uniform Power of Attorney Act follow a similar structure and allow the Principal to select from the following list of powers for the Agent to have:

  • Real Property;
  • Tangible Personal Property;
  • Stocks and Bonds;
  • Commodities and Options;
  • Banks and Other Financial Institutions;
  • Operating of an Entity of Business;
  • Insurance and Annuities;
  • Estates, Trusts, and Other Beneficial Interests;
  • Claims and Litigation;
  • Personal and Family Maintenance;
  • Benefits from Governmental Programs, Civil Service, and Military Service;
  • Retirement Plans;
  • Taxes; and
  • Gifts.

The Principal has the option to select some or all of the powers in addition to limiting any of the powers the Agent.

Step 4 – Deciding Other Powers

In addition to financial powers granted by the Principal, the Agent may be selected to carry out other responsibilities of the Principal such as:

  • Creating, amending, or terminating an inter vivos trust;
  • Making gifts;
  • Creating or changing rights of survivorship;
  • Creating or changing a Beneficiary designation; and
  • The nomination of a Guardian or Conservator for a minor (child) of the Principal).

Before finalizing the power of attorney, the Principal can include any additional Special Instructions as they deem fit.

Step 5 – Signing the Document

The Principal and the Agent (if applicable) must authorize the power of attorney document in accordance with State law. This commonly means the parties will be required to sign the form with either a notary public or witnesses present. The general power of attorney signing requirements is the same as the durable (view signing requirements by State).

Agent Certification – In some States, the Agent will be required to read and authorize an additional “Agent Certification” that is attached to the power of attorney. The Agent Certification lists the rights and rules under which the Agent must abide in accordance with State law and standard procedures.

General POA vs Durable POA

The only difference is the general power of attorney does not remain valid if the principal should become mentally unstable or incapacitated. Under a durable power of attorney, the form remains valid even if the principal may no longer be able to think for themselves due to any type of health issue such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, etc.

How to Cancel a General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney form may be terminated in 3 ways in every State:

  • Writing a Revocation – A revocation form can be easily created by entering the name of the Principal, date of the power of attorney (being canceled) was created, and signing in the presence of a notary public. The revocation is recommended to be mailed to the Agent (certified mail with return receipt) which gives official notice the designation has been terminated.
  • Creating a New General Power of Attorney – Upon the creation of a new general power of attorney all previous versions shall become void and no longer in effect. Although, the previous Agent must be made aware of this change and, like the revocation form, notice must be mailed to the Agent. It’s recommended the notice be made via certified mail with return receipt.
  • Death or Incompetency of the Principal – If the Principal should die or be considered incapacitated the general power of attorney will immediately become invalid. The assets of the Principal will become part of the probate process and will follow the instructions made in the Principal’s Last Will & Testament.

Under any circumstance, if the Agent continues to act on behalf of the Principal after the power of attorney has been canceled it shall be considered a fraud or elder abuse with serious legal consequences. If at any time the Principal or their family feel the Agent is taking advantage of their role or not performing with a fiduciary duty, the proper authorities should be contacted in addition to hiring an attorney.

How to Write a General Power of Attorney

Download: Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word

1 – Issue Your General Power Attorney Using The Template On This Page

When you are ready to designate another party with the same authority at your disposal then locate the links below the image on this page. You can select this file as either an “Adobe PDF” file or “MS Word” file. If you need to fill this out manually because you do not have access to the appropriate, then you can open the pdf with your browser and print it. It will be assumed that you are filling out this paperwork on your own behalf.

2 – Prepare The Title And Introduction With Your Information

The title on this page will be clearly presented at the top of the page and lead into a blank line. You must fill out your name on this line. Enter your full name and do not use any nick names. Present your name on the next blank line – after the word “I” and before the term “The Principal Of.” Next, your address will also need to be furnished to this statement. This will solidify your identity to anyone reading this document so, you should utilize the blank space labeled “[Street Address]” to record your building number, street, and suite number. Complete your address by entering the city and state where it is located on the blank lines after the phrases “City Of” and “State Of.” Since the goal of issuing this paperwork will be to name a specific individual as an Attorney-in-Fact who can wield your principal power, you will have to specifically name him or her in this declaration statement. Begin with the blank space just before the label “[Attorney-in-Fact]” The address on your Attorney-in-Fact’s identification papers (i.e. a driver’s license or State I.D.) should be placed across the last three empty spaces of this sentence. Notice, there will be an individual space to place the Attorney-in-Fact’s “Street Address,” city, and state.

3 – Approve The Types Of Authority You Wish To Grant

A few articles will make up this appointment form The first one (“I. Powers”), will need to be reviewed carefully before tending to it. Each item making up this article will give a description of what the Attorney-in-Fact can do in your name if (and only if) you initial the blank space attached to it. Thus, if you do not initial a paragraph then the Attorney-in-Fact will not be able to engage in any of the actions it defines using your principal power. The first numbered paragraph in this article (“1. Power To Make Payments Or Collect Monies Owed”) will give your Attorney-in-Fact the ability to handle actions such as using your assets to make payment on accounts in your name and collect your debts for you, if you initial the blank space just before the number 1. The second statement grants the Attorney-in-Fact your approval to “Acquire, Lease, And Sell Personal Property” using your authority when you place your initials on the space corresponding to the number 2. If you wish to give the Attorney-in-Fact your “Power To Acquire, Lease And Sell Real Property” then initial the empty line attached to the third paragraph. Your Attorney-in-Fact will be able to “…Purchase, Lease, “Grant Options To Sell, And Convey Real Property” and a host of other actions defined here on your behalf but only if you initial this item.

Your “Management Powers” over your real, personal, tangible, or intangible property can be granted to the Attorney-in-Fact if you initial the blank space attached to “4. Management Powers.” The “Banking Powers” available to you will be appointed to the Attorney-in-Fact once you place your initials on the line attached to “5. Banking Powers.” You can give your Attorney-in-Fact the principal authority to title vehicles in your name by initialing “6. Motor Vehicles.” Note: This will likely require additional paperwork filed with your local DMV.

The “Tax Powers” described in the seventh item contains some specific wording. Here, if you initial the line attached to the number 7, you authorize the Attorney-in-Fact to engage in all the actions with tax forms and procedures discussed within this paragraph in your name. If you intend for your Attorney-in-Fact to access, view, and control the contents of your “Safe-Deposit Boxes” then initial the eighth paragraph. Do not initial this item if you do not want your Attorney-in-Fact to be able to exhibit this type of authority with any safe-deposit box in your control. If you wish the authority you wield when you make or receive gifts bestowed upon the Attorney-in-Fact, then initial the blank line attached to the label “9. Gift Making Powers.” Take not that this type of authority may include forgiving certain loans made in your name. The power you exhibit when “Lending And Borrowing” money and other financial assets will be designated within the Attorney-in-Fact’s scope of principal powers if you initial the ninth paragraph in this list. The Attorney-in-Fact you intend to grant authority to can use your names to enter contracts on your behalf when you initial the blank space corresponding to the label “11. Contracts.” Paragraph 12 will concern “Health Care.” This paragraph will allow your Attorney-in-Fact to handle some of the decisions and paperwork that are required to maintain your health when necessary (but should not be confused with a health directive). If you wish the Attorney-in-Fact to have this responsibility and the power to handle such issues, then initial “12. Health Care.” The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act Of 1996 will cover the powers you can grant by initialing “13. HIPAA” paragraph. Initial the fourteenth paragraph if you intend to grant your “Power To Hire And Pay For Services” (i.e. obtaining a C.P.A., practicing attorney, social worker, etc.) to your Attorney-in-Fact. If you have determined that your Attorney-in-Fact can the principal authority granted to obtain reimbursement for expenses accrued when he or she is acting as your representative then, initial the fifteenth paragraph (on the blank space next to “15. Reimbursement Of Attorney-in-Fact”). If the Attorney-in-Fact must have the “Power To Sue Third Parties Who Fail To Act Pursuant…” to this paperwork, then initial item sixteen. This will allow your Attorney-in-Fact to use the courts to enforce this appointment of power. The last item of this article, “17. Other,” is included so that you can specifically name actions or decisions your Attorney-in-Fact should have the principal authority to engage in on your behalf and in your name. The blank lines after the words “Power To Conduct The Following” can be used to deliver this information directly to this page or cite an attachment (see example) with the power descriptions you wish included in the Attorney-in-Fact’s principal authority. If you take advantage of this option, you must make sure to initial the blank space attached to the number 17 after your instructions have been supplied.

4 – Additional Information Is Required To Supplement The Remaining Articles

The second article, under the heading “II. Interpretation And Governing Law,” will need the state where you wish this paperwork to be issued, governed, and enforced by the courts if necessary, input on the blank line before the words “And The Laws Of Such State Shall Govern…”Article “III. Date And Termination” concern the frame of time when the Attorney-in-Fact’s use of the authority you approved above is valid. This article is divided into two portions so this requirement can be met easily.

First initial either the first or the second statement to define when the principal powers defined here become available to the Attorney-in-Fact. Keep in mind, you should only initial one of the first two statements and one of the last three statements. If the Attorney-in-Fact can wield principal power “Upon The Date Of This Document…” then initial the first statement. If, however, you wish the Attorney-in-Fact to only be able to wield principal power starting on a specific date, then mark the second statement and record the first calendar date when the Attorney-in-Fact is authorized to represent you using the two blank spaces in this statement. Now, below the statement beginning with “To Indicate When This Document Shall Become Terminated…” you will need to define when the authority you deliver to the Attorney-in-Fact expires. If they should naturally terminate upon a pre-determined calendar date, then initial the line attached to the words “On The Following Date” then enter the date of determination. The statement “When I Have Made A Written Revocation” should be initialed if you wish the authority granted here to remain in effect until you issue a written notice stating otherwise (i.e. a formal Revocation Of Principal Power) If you wish the Attorney-in-Fact to use principal power until you have been incapacitated and diagnosed as such, then initial the last statement. Read the article titled “IV. Third Party Reliance.”

5 – You Should Execute This Appointment Before Two Witnesses And A Notary Public

Now that this entire document has been reviewed and tended to, you must execute it properly. To do this, begin by entering the calendar day, month, and year when you are signing it to the blank lines in the last statement.  You must sign your full name on the line under the heading “Principal’s Signature” Then you must print your full name on the “Principal’s Printed Name” line and relinquish this document to your Attorney-in-Fact. The “Acceptance Of Appointment” statement requires the Attorney-in-fact print his or her name on the first blank line. The Attorney-in-Fact must acknowledge this designation of authority by signing his or her name on the “Attorney-in-Fact’s Signature line. The last line in the Attorney-in-Fact’s acceptance statement requires he or she provided his or her printed name on it. The Witnesses must now read the “Witness” statement then sign their names on a unique “Witness Signature” line before providing their addresses in the next column of this section. Lastly, the Notary Public will use the “Acknowledgement Of Notary Public” section to process this paperwork and verify its authenticity.

General Power of Attorney – Sample

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