Washington Power of Attorney Form Template – Forbes Advisor


Published: Dec 20, 2023, 4:07am

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A power of attorney (POA) form is a legal tool that allows someone to act on your behalf. These flexible and powerful documents can be limited or expansive. Some may simply allow someone to make medical decisions due to your incapacity, while others grant full control over your property and finances.

You can use our free Washington power of attorney template to customize and create a document tailored to meet your needs.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) permits one or more persons to act on your behalf as your agent. This important lifetime planning tool may be limited to a particular activity, such as selling your home, or it can be more general in its application. The power of attorney can also be used to give temporary or permanent authority to act on your behalf.

Note that the attorney-in-fact doesn’t need to be a licensed attorney. It should, however, be someone the principal—the person granting the right to act on their behalf—trusts to make decisions on their behalf.

There are also different types of powers of attorney. They can be “durable,” meaning they remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions. Durable powers of attorney typically end with the principal’s death. A general power of attorney that is not durable is no longer valid if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Who Should Use a Power of Attorney Form?

Anyone who wants to ensure that a specific person has the power to act on their behalf should consider a power of attorney. A POA is a powerful, viable tool in any situation where you need someone to act for you. Often this is when you face a situation where you lose your capacity to make decisions for yourself. However, it can also be used in situations where you’re not able to be present, like when you need to sell your car while you’re out of town.

If you consult with an estate planning attorney, it’s likely that they would suggest using a power of attorney as part of your estate planning strategy.

How to Create a Power of Attorney in Washington

There are a few requirements needed to draft a Washington power of attorney. If you have any doubts, be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. The requirements typically are that:

  • The principal can make decisions for themselves
  • There is an actual written document
  • The document includes:
    • The name of the attorney-in-fact
    • The duties the principal gives the agent
    • The principal’s signature, properly notarized

Store the original safely and regularly review your power of attorney as your life circumstances change. Consider also sending signed copies of the power of attorney documents to your attorney-in-fact, financial institution and important family members.

Types of Powers of Attorney

Depending on their needs, principals can choose from several types of powers of attorney with regard to duration and scope.

Powers of Attorney Based on Capacity

Principals can select a power of attorney depending on whether they want it to take effect immediately or only if they incapacitated or if they want it to end upon their incapacitation or their death.

  • General or Non-Durable Power of Attorney. A general power of attorney gives the attorney-in-fact permission to act for the principal on a broad range of personal affairs and financial transactions. It automatically ends when the principal either becomes incapacitated or dies.
  • Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated. In Washington, durability is not presumed, meaning a power of attorney will not automatically remain effective if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated.
  • Springing Power of Attorney. Unlike general and durable powers of attorney, a springing power of attorney becomes effective only if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated. It’s also referred to as a “standby power of attorney.”

Limited Powers of Attorney Based on Scope

Limited powers of attorney, as the name suggests, give attorneys-in-fact responsibility over specific topic(s) the principal designates but do not include sweeping rights to make decisions. Common examples include:

  • Financial Power of Attorney. With a financial power of attorney, a principal enables an attorney-in-fact to make financial decisions for them, including choices around investments, banking, real estate, loans, insurance and bill-paying.
  • Medical Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. A healthcare power of attorney allows an attorney-in-fact to make healthcare decisions for the principal, according to their wishes and professional medical advice, when the principal cannot do so for themselves. You may wish to nominate an alternate attorney-in-fact in case your primary one is unavailable in an emergency.

Who Can Be an Attorney-In-Fact?

Despite the term “attorney-in-fact,” you don’t have to be an attorney to serve in the role. In fact, nearly anyone can be an agent or attorney-in-fact. As long as the person selected is a legal adult and competent, they can serve as an agent.

The most important qualification is not an official one—the attorney-in-fact should be someone the principal trusts. A POA can grant a lot of power to the agent, so it’s essential that the agent be a person likely to do what the principal would prefer.

What Are the Signing Requirements for a Power of Attorney Form in Washington?

Signing requirements for a power of attorney differ across states. When you consider the broad powers a POA can grant, the strict requirements make sense. In Washington, the POA must be notarized or acknowledged by an individual authorized by law to take acknowledgments.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Power of Attorney in Washington?

You can use a template like the one provided above to create a perfectly legal power of attorney in Washington. You could even write one without a template, as long as it meets all the legal requirements.

Just because you don’t have to have a lawyer draw up your POA, though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it reviewed by an attorney. A power of attorney can give sweeping powers to the attorney-in-fact, so a lawyer can ensure that it confers the authority you want to the right person.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you need a lawyer to get a power of attorney?

While it’s usually a good idea to consult with a lawyer for a POA before you need one, you don’t need an attorney to get one. As long as the document complies with all the requirements of Washington, a lawyer isn’t necessary to create a binding power of attorney.

How do you get power of attorney if someone is incapacitated?

Power of attorney can only be granted by a principal of sound mind, so if someone becomes incapacitated, they can no longer appoint someone to be their agent. You can, however, petition the court to make you the person’s conservator or guardian. Once this appointment is made, you can act on the person’s behalf yourself or grant power of attorney to an agent to act for them.

Who can override a power of attorney?

There are only two ways to override a power of attorney. The principal can override the POA—called “revocation”—as long as they are of sound mind. In most states, a revocation must be in writing and clearly express the intention to end the power of attorney.

The other way to override a power of attorney is through court action. A court can remove an agent directly or appoint a guardian or conservator to the principal, who could then revoke the POA themselves.

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Adam Ramirez has been writing and editing about the law and legal issues for more than 20 years. After earning a law degree from the University of Arizona, he clerked for two years for a U.S. District Court judge. He researched and wrote legal precedent in published opinions on behalf of the Court. He previously was an editor, columnist and journalist at the Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Oregonian, Golf Digest, FindLaw.com and other media outlets.

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