A California power of attorney is a legally binding document used when an adult of sound mind, referred to as the principal, grants power to an agent or attorney-in-fact to act on their behalf in financial, legal, business, or medical matters.
The reason for granting power to the agent may be due to old age, illness, lack of time, or the absence of the principal. However, regardless of the reason, a power of attorney is a formal document that must meet all statutory requirements.
Furthermore, to produce a legal effect on the principal's behalf, the agent must demonstrate authorization for each act and always act in the best interests of the principal.
Types of Power of Attorney in California
California Durable (Statutory) Power of Attorney Requirements
This type of power of attorney grants power to the agent to manage the principal's real and personal property and lasts for the principal's entire lifetime, even in the event of the principal's subsequent incapacity. (§ 4124)
California General (Financial) Power of Attorney Requirements
The powers that are included in a general power of attorney in California vary depending on the specific terms outlined in the document. Generally, it allows the agent to perform tasks that are part of the principal's regular and everyday affairs.
California Limited (Special) Power of Attorney Requirements
A limited power of attorney authorizes the agent to act on behalf of the principal only in specific situations that must be precisely defined in the document.
California Parental (Minors) Power of Attorney Requirements
A parental power of attorney allows a parent who cannot personally attend to the care of their minor child to authorize another individual to act as a temporary caretaker. This ensures that the child's needs are met in their absence.
California Medical Power of Attorney Requirements
The principal can use a California power of attorney for health care and allow an agent to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. This document can be used if the individual becomes incapacitated or if they choose to have someone else make healthcare decisions for them. (§ 4701)
California Springing Power of Attorney Requirements
A springing power of attorney in California allows the principal to designate one or more people who have the power to conclusively determine if the specified event or contingency has occurred, at which point the power of attorney becomes active. (§ 4129)
California Vehicle Power of Attorney Requirements
The principal can grant an adult the authority to act on their behalf in all matters related to purchasing, selling, registering, and obtaining a vehicle title.
California Revocation Power of Attorney Requirements
Under the terms of the power of attorney, the principal can revoke any previously granted power of attorney. This revocation must be done in writing, and the agent must be notified of the revocation on time. (chapter 3 - 4151.)
California Tax Power of Attorney Requirements
With the help of a California tax power of attorney, a taxpayer can delegate tax-related responsibilities, such as filing tax returns, making payments, and resolving tax issues, to another person or entity.
California Real Estate Power of Attorney Requirements
A California real estate power of attorney allows an agent to handle real estate matters on the principal's behalf. The agent is mostly given the power to buy, sell, rent, mortgage, or otherwise take care of the principal's real estate.
Legal Requirements for a Power of Attorney in California
A power of attorney in California becomes valid before the government agencies when certain requirements are fulfilled, such as:
Principal’s sound mind. If the principal is not of sound mind, they may not have the legal capacity to grant power of attorney to another person for any actions.
Date and signature. A power of attorney must contain the date of execution and the signature of the principal or an authorized person in the presence of the principal. (§4121 (a, b))
Acknowledgment. A power of attorney in California must be certified by a notary public or by at least two adult witnesses. (§ 4121 (c))
Who Can Be an Agent for a Power of Attorney in California?
The agent can be a family member, a friend, or even a professional such as a lawyer or accountant, but they must be over the age of 18 and of sound mind, as well as trustworthy, responsible, and capable of carrying out the duties outlined in the power of attorney.
How to Create a California Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney in California
#1. Decide on Which Type of Document to Use
When considering a power of attorney, it is important to determine which type of power of attorney is best suited for your situation. Choose the right one and establish a legally binding agreement that accurately reflects your wishes.
#2. Select an Agent
Choose someone you trust to act as your agent. Your agent can be a family member, a friend, or a professional such as an attorney or accountant.
#3. Define the Agent’s Powers
Avoid any confusion or harm by specifying in detail what your agent is authorized to do in your California power of attorney.
#4. Download & Fill in Our Form
Once you identify the appropriate type of power of attorney, you can download it, fill in any necessary information, and feel safe knowing that your interests are protected.
#5. Get It Signed & Notarized
To confirm the document's legal validity, sign the power of attorney in front of a notary public or two witnesses.
#6. Safely Store the Original Copy
Keep the original document in a secure location, such as a safety deposit box, as it serves as proof of the given authorization. By storing the original power of attorney in a safe place, you ensure that it is easily accessible if needed but also protected from loss or damage.
#7. Provide Copies to Relevant Parties
Provide copies of the power of attorney to your agent and submit them to any relevant financial institutions, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This ensures that your agent's authority is recognized and legitimate.
#8. Update the Document as Needed
If the circumstances change, the principal should review and update the original power of attorney in the same manner as the original execution. (chapter 3 - 4150.)
How Long Does a Power of Attorney Last in California?
In California, a power of attorney is valid until the principal revokes it or one of the situations listed in Section 4152 of the California Probate Code terminates it.
The principal may revoke a power of attorney according to the terms specified in the document or by written notice. Once revoked, the attorney-in-fact or third party is protected from liability if they did not have notice of the revocation.
California Power of Attorney FAQ
As a legal tool, a power of attorney is used when a principal is unable to manage their own affairs.
A power of attorney grants powers to the agent to make decisions in the principal's financial, business, real estate, medical, and other affairs.
Yes, a California power of attorney must be notarized.
A power of attorney and a will are two separate legal documents. While a power of attorney is effective during a person's lifetime, a will only takes effect after the person has passed away.