How do I obtain forms to initiate a durable power of attorney for finances?

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How do I obtain forms to initiate a durable power of attorney for finances?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com 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.

First, figure out what you want to accomplish with the power of attorney. And beware that there are two different kinds of power of attorney for finances: those that take effect immediately, and those that take effect only after a doctor or two certify that you are incapacitated.

The type that takes effect only after your incapacity is known as a springing power of attorney, and to get one of those, it will probably be worth the time and expense to hire an attorney to help draft or at least approve the final document. That is because there are occasional glitches with medical confidentiality rules and banking institutions that an experienced attorney should know how to accommodate.

On the other hand, if you feel comfortable with a power of attorney that would take effect immediately, allowing the trusted person you name to help with some aspects of your finances at once, then you can be fairly confident in using a prepackaged form or software program to get the document.

A few words to the wise: When searching for a self-help product that offers a power of attorney form, make certain that it is state-specific and comes with good instructions, as state laws differ on what may be included and on what formalities you must follow to finalize the document. Some states also require that you must file a copy of the power of attorney with the local land records office if the agent you name will have power to deal with real property. Check to be sure the company that publishes the product has been in business for a while and that attorneys were involved in writing and reviewing the documents it produces.