A Washington power of attorney is a legal document that empowers an individual, known as the principal, to delegate certain powers to another person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact. The agent can then act on the principal's behalf in matters related to finances, property, and other legal affairs.
As the actions taken by the agent under a power of attorney have significant implications for the principal, it is crucial that the document clearly and precisely define the extent of the agent's powers. Equally important is the agent's obligation to act in good faith and in the best interest of the principal at all times.
By adhering to these principles, both parties can achieve a successful and cooperative relationship free from disputes and conflicts.
Types of Power of Attorney in Washington
Washington Durable (Statutory) Power of Attorney Requirements
This type of power of attorney is "durable," meaning that it remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves. (RCW 11.125.020 (2))
Washington General (Financial) Power of Attorney Requirements
A general power of attorney is typically used for specific time periods, and the agent can act on behalf of the principal in a variety of financial matters, such as paying bills, managing investments, and making financial decisions. (RCW 11.125.300)
Washington Limited (Special) Power of Attorney Requirements
The limited power of attorney can be customized to meet the needs of the principal and can cover a wide range of tasks or decisions.
It is important to carefully draft the document to ensure that the agent's powers are clearly defined and limited to the specific tasks or decisions that the principal wishes to delegate.
Washington Parental (Minors) Power of Attorney Requirements
A Washington parental power of attorney allows a parent to authorize an agent to make health care decisions on behalf of their child or children who are under the age of majority. This type of document is typically used when the parent is unable to make such decisions due to absence or incapacity. (RCW 11.125.410)
Washington Medical Power of Attorney Requirements
The agent appointed in the medical power of attorney can make medical decisions related to the principal's health care, including treatment options, medical procedures, and end-of-life care. (RCW 11.124.400)
Washington Springing Power of Attorney Requirements
This type of power of attorney is time-limited in that it takes effect on a certain date or after a certain event, both of which must be explicitly stated in the document. (RCW 11.125.090)
Washington Vehicle Power of Attorney Requirements
By using a vehicle power of attorney, an agent can perform a variety of tasks related to the principal's vehicle, such as registering or transferring ownership of the vehicle, applying for a duplicate title, obtaining vehicle registration or license plates, and signing documents related to the vehicle.
Washington Revocation Power of Attorney Requirements
The principal may choose to revoke the power of attorney for any reason, and in that case, they can use this form. The principal should provide copies of the revocation to any parties who may have relied on the original power of attorney, such as banks or financial institutions.
Washington Tax Power of Attorney Requirements
With this type of document, a principal can appoint another person or entity to act on their behalf in matters related to their taxes. This can include things like filing tax returns, paying taxes due, collecting refunds, receiving confidential information, and negotiating with tax authorities. (RCW 11.125.380)
Washington Real Estate Power of Attorney Requirements
A Washington real estate power of attorney allows the principal to grant an agent the authority to act on their behalf in matters related to their real estate property. This can include buying, selling, or managing the property, as well as signing and executing documents about the property. (RCW 11.125.270)
Legal Requirements for a Power of Attorney in Washington
To be legally valid in front of governmental agencies, a power of attorney must meet the following requirements:
Age and mental capacity. Both the principal and the agent must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, which means that they are able to understand the nature and consequences of their actions.
Signatures, witnesses, and notarization. A power of attorney in Washington must be dated and signed by the principal before a notary public or in the presence of at least two witnesses. (11.125.050)
Who Can Be an Agent for a Power of Attorney in Washington?
In Washington, a power of attorney agent must be at least 18 years old and legally competent to act on behalf of the principal. They can either be an individual or a legal entity, such as a trust or corporation. Most importantly, an agent in Washington must act in good faith and in the best interests of the principal. They may not exceed the scope of the powers granted to them in the power of attorney.
Lastly, the principal should choose someone who is trustworthy, reliable, and able to handle the responsibilities of being an agent in a good and ethical manner.
How to Create a Washington Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney in Washington
#1. Decide on Which Type of Document to Use
Once you have identified the purpose for which you need a power of attorney, you can then choose the most appropriate type of document to use.
#2. Select an Agent
Choose someone you trust to act as your agent. Your agent should be responsible and capable of handling the tasks you assign to them.
#3. Define the Agent’s Powers
Specify the powers you want to grant to your agent. For example, you may want to grant your agent the power to make financial transactions, manage your property, or make health care decisions.
#4. Download & Fill in Our Form
Download our reliable and professional power of attorney form that is suitable for your needs. Fill in the required details, including your name, the agent's name, and the powers you are granting to your agent.
#5. Get It Signed & Notarized
Sign the power of attorney in the presence of a notary public. The notary public will verify your identity and witness your signature. The agent should also sign the document.
#6. Safely Store the Original Copy
Store the original document in a safe and secure location. Make sure it is easily accessible to your agent if needed.
#7. Provide Copies to Relevant Parties
Provide copies of the power of attorney to your agent, your attorney, your financial institution, and any other relevant parties.
#8. Update the Document as Needed
It is important to review and update your power of attorney periodically to ensure it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. If you need to make changes, you can create a new power of attorney document.
How Long Does a Power of Attorney Last in Washington?
A Washington power of attorney takes effect as soon as it is signed, witnessed, and notarized, unless it specifies a later date or event on which it will take effect.
The duration of a power of attorney depends on the type of power of attorney. A durable power of attorney remains in effect until it is revoked by the principal or until the principal's death, while a non-durable power of attorney terminates if the principal becomes incapacitated. (11.125.90)
In addition, a power of attorney terminates upon the occurrence of a termination event specified in the document, such as a certain date, the completion of a certain task, or the agent's death, resignation, or incapacity, unless the power of attorney specifies an alternate agent to act in that situation. (11.125.100)
Washington Power of Attorney FAQ
A power of attorney is used to delegate legal authority to an agent to act on the principal's behalf. This is often done when the principal is unable to make decisions or take actions for themselves due to illness, disability, or absence.
A power of attorney grants the agent the legal capacity to act in the principal's place and make decisions. Depending on the type of power of attorney, the scope of this power may range from handling finances to making healthcare choices.
A power of attorney must be signed in Washington in the presence of two witnesses and notarized to be valid.
Yes, a power of attorney only enables the agent to carry out the principal's wishes while the principal is still alive. On the other hand, a will outlines the distribution of the principal's possessions upon their passing.