What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

It is a legal document which can be revoked, that gives one or more people (the attorney-in-fact) the power and ability to act on your behalf if or when you (the principal) are not able to be present (be there physically in person) or if you become mentally incompetent. The attorney-in-fact can make medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf, based upon the type of Power of Attorney given. The type of Power of Attorney given will also determine when the Power of Attorney goes into effect; immediately or upon your (the principal’s) incapacity.

What can’t a POA/Attorney-in-Fact do?

Generally, with a Power of Attorney, the attorney-in-fact can handle most items related to financial or medical decisions. There are things they cannot do:

·      They cannot change the principal’s Will;

·      They must act in the principal's best interest (cannot break their fiduciary duty);

·      They cannot make any decisions after the principal’s death (the POA ends with the death of the principal); and

·      They cannot transfer the POA powers to anyone else.

What if you have a Trust – can you use a POA?

As for the Trust, no, you cannot use a Power of Attorney. The Trust will have its own Trustee(s) appointed within the Trust. If a Trustee is not able to act according to the Trust, then a Successor Trustee can be appointed in accordance with the Trust Agreement. A Trustee cannot grant a power of attorney to act on their behalf.

Who can grant a POA?

Any individual who is at least 18 years old and is mentally competent to understand the contents of the document.

What are thesigning requirements of a POA?

Under Washington law, RCW 11.125.050:

(1) A power of attorney must be signed and dated by the principal, and the signature must be either acknowledged before a notary public or other individual authorized by law to take acknowledgments, or attested by two or more competent witnesses who are neither home care providers for the principal nor care providers at an adult family home or long-term care facilityin which the principal resides, and who are unrelated to the principal or agent by blood, marriage, or state registered domestic partnership, by subscribing their names to the power of attorney, while in the presence of the principal and at the principal's direction or request.

(2) A power of attorney shall be considered signed in accordance with this section if, in the case of a principal who is physically unable to sign his or her name, the principal makes a mark in accordance with RCW 11.12.030, or in the case of a principal who is physically unable to make a mark, the power of attorney is executed in accordance with RCW 64.08.100.

(3) A signature on a power of attorney is presumed to be genuine if the principal acknowledges the signature before a notary public or other individual authorized by law to take acknowledgments.


Do you need a POA?

For an individual transaction, we here at Access Home Closing, are able to prepare a Specific POA upon request.

This is not intended as legal advice. We encourage you and your clients to seek advice from an attorney

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