Does a power of attorney form have to be filled anywhere to be a legal document?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Does a power of attorney form have to be filled anywhere to be a legal document or can I fill one out that is offered on the internet and have it available when I need it?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It would make perfect sense for you to be able to complete one power of attorney or advance directive"”and have it be honored whenever and wherever you might need it.

Unfortunately, though, state legislators have gotten involved in the matter"”and as a result, things are rather murky. In powers of attorney for healthcare, for example, some states allow controlling your wishes in particular medical situations not mentioned in other state laws. Some even have different requirements about who you can name as an agent or how the document must be witnessed.

The laws in some states recognize power of attorneys that are completed in another state; some state laws recognize them only to the extent they comply with their own laws; some state laws are frustratingly mum on the subject.

For now, your best bet is to complete a power of attorney in your primary state of residence"”and give copies to any agent you name, your regular doctors, the patient representative of your insurance plan, the clinic or hospital likely to treat you, and close relatives and friends. You should be able to get a copy of the form from the patient records department of a local hospital.