Power of Attorney in Texas

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a document giving one person, or agent, the authority to make certain decisions for another person, or principal. It gives the agent the authority to represent the principal when he or she can't be physically present, such as when transactions take place out of state, or when he or she is incapacitated. It also allows the agent to make decisions concerning the principal's personal welfare.

There are two basic types of Power of Attorney in Texas, the Medical Power of Attorney and the Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney. In the Medical Power of Attorney, the principal grants the agent the authority to make decisions concerning surgery, medication, end-of-life care, and any other healthcare treatments when that person can’t make those decisions. Financial, or Statutory Durable Power of Attorney gives the agent the authority to make decisions concerning the principal's property and money. This might include selling property, making bank deposits, and paying bills.

These two types may be divided into one or more subcategories:

  • Durable Power of Attorney - The durable Power of Attorney allows the agent to perform specific business, financial, and legal transactions for the principal. It usually becomes active once the document has been created and continues after the principal becomes incapacitated or is unable to handle his or her own affairs.
  • General Power of Attorney – The General Power of Attorney has much the same authority as the durable, but that authority ends when the principal becomes incapacitated.
  • Springing Power of Attorney – Unlike the durable and general Powers of Attorney, the springing Power of Attorney does not come into effect until the principal becomes incapacitated. The drawback to this type is that valuable time would be wasted while the agent gathers documents proving he or she has the authority to perform actions.
  • Limited/Special Power of Attorney – Limited/Power of Attorney is when the principal gives the agent the authority to handle specific financial issues. The agent's authority runs out either when the issue is complete or when a predetermined amount of time has passed.

In order to create a Power of Attorney document in Texas, the principal must be of sound mind and 18 years-old or older. All signatures for the document are witnessed or notarized or both. The Power of Attorney is valid until the principal revokes it, the principal is appointed a guardian, the agent's authority is terminated, or the principal dies.

It’s extremely important to choose an agent for the financial power of attorney that you trust completely. It’s very easy for the agent to help themselves to money when the principal is incapacitated. And the Durable (financial) power of attorney should be updated every five years because financial institutions are leery of old powers of attorney. As for the Medical Power of Attorney, make sure you tell your agent what your wishes are as far as removing life support and your care.