Powers of attorney are legal documents that allow you to appoint another person, known as an agent, to act on your behalf. Powers of attorney are crucial elements of an estate plan in Texas.
It is essential to choose someone you trust as your agent, and it is vital to ensure that your powers of attorney meet Texas state requirements.
If you do not have powers of attorney or if your powers of attorney are deemed invalid or unenforceable, your loved ones may have to go to court to obtain a guardianship over you if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
Guardianship proceedings are expensive, time-consuming, and typically result in the loss of autonomy and independence.
There are two types of powers of attorney in Texas, durable powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney.
Different Types of Powers of Attorney in Texas
Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that grants the agent broad authority to act on behalf of the principal in virtually all legal and financial matters.
For example, a durable power of attorney can be used to manage the principal’s finances, make legal and business decisions for the principal, sign contracts, buy or sell property, etc.), subject to any limitations specified in the document.
This type of power of attorney is often the most essential long-term care planning document for aging individuals, since it remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves.
This helps ensure that someone is authorized to take action on the principal’s behalf, even if they cannot act on their own accord.
Medical Powers of Attorney
A medical power of attorney grants the agent the power to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal if the principal cannot make medical decisions on their own behalf, and can be critical in end-of-life planning.
This type of power of attorney allows both healthy and critically ill people to make healthcare decisions with a clear head, before they become unable to make medical decisions for themselves.
An experienced Texas power of attorney lawyer can help you draft an effective medical power of attorney that meets your needs and enables you to achieve control over your healthcare decisions.
Requirements of a Valid Power of Attorney
In order to make a valid power of attorney, you must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. In addition, the power of attorney must:
- Be in writing,
- Designate another person as agent,
- Authorize the agent to act in the place of the principal (the person creating the power of attorney),
- Be signed by the principal, and
- Be witnessed and/or notarized.
Choosing an Agent
When creating a power of attorney, it is imperative that you choose an agent who is trustworthy and capable of handling your affairs.
You should also discuss responsibilities and limitations with the agent before naming them in your powers of attorney so that the agent understands their role and the types of decisions they are authorized to make.
If you become incapacitated and are unable to make your own decisions, your agent will have a significant amount of power, so it’s important to choose someone who will act in your best interests and not abuse their authority.
Termination of a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney terminates when:
- The principal dies,
- The principal revokes the power of attorney,
- The power of attorney provides that it terminates,
- The purpose of the power of attorney is accomplished, or
- A guardian of the principal is appointed.
Revocation of a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney can be revoked at any time by the principal, as long as they have the capacity to do so. To revoke a power of attorney, the principal can simply destroy the power of attorney document or create a new power of attorney that revokes the previous one.
If you revoke your power of attorney, it is important to notify the agent and any relevant third parties (such as financial institutions or medical providers) of the revocation.
Get in Contact with a Waco Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Every situation is unique, and your powers of attorney should reflect your specific needs and circumstances.
At The Zimmerman Law Firm, our estate planning attorneys will help you understand the different types of powers of attorney available in Texas, advise you on which type is best suited for your needs, and ensure that the documents comply with all legal requirements.
We will also guide you in choosing the right agent, establishing any limitations or conditions on the agent’s authority, and providing guidance on how to properly execute your powers of attorney.
Power Of Attorney FAQ
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone (the “principal”) to appoint another person (the “agent”) to make decisions and act on their behalf in certain circumstances, such as when the principal is unable to make decisions themselves.
In Texas, any person who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create a power of attorney.
Yes, a power of attorney can be revoked at any time as long as the principal is of sound mind and able to make their own decisions.
Yes, a durable power of attorney can be used to appoint an agent to make financial decisions on the principal’s behalf.
Yes, a medical power of attorney can be used to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions on the principal’s behalf in the event they are unable to make decisions themselves.
The responsibilities of an agent under a power of attorney in Texas include acting in the best interest of the principal, following the instructions of the principal, avoiding conflicts of interest, keeping accurate records of all transactions, and maintaining confidentiality.