This is the first of a two-part series on Power of Attorney (see part 2)
Service members facing a likelihood of deployment overseas should get to know the concept of Power of Attorney, or POA, which gives loved ones and other trusted friends the ability to enter into and execute legally binding contracts and handle other important needs in your stead.
POA is essential for family members to perform several tasks. But first service members and their families need to have an idea of how giving and receiving power of attorney works.
Military members will want to grant general POA, which enables to the attorney-in-fact—the person who is given POA—to handle matters until the POA is revoked. Without POA, it is very difficult or impossible for a service member to manage these matters, such as banking decisions or purchasing a home.
Forms vary from state to state. Although you can find forms online, you’re better off checking with legal stationers, legal printers or attorneys. Online forms may not hold up in court, and properly drawn-up forms are more reliable. You’ll have to pay a small fee for general POA forms, but they should be less than $20.
POA forms will specify what powers the attorney-in-fact takes over for the service member who will be deployed. Legal, financial and medical decisions are commonly granted. Service members can immediately grant POA to a family member. However, if the service member would rather wait until the day of deployment, that can be defined on the form. You may also need to obtain more specific POAs for individual transactions.
The service member and attorney-in-fact need to sign the form and get it notarized. Most banks have employees who are notaries and can notarize the form for you. The notary acts as a legal witness.
Not every state acknowledges the POA unless the form is filed with your county clerk. Contact your city hall to find out hours of operation so you can file the form, which completes the process.
Transferring POA back to the service member requires a similar process upon the service member’s return. Instead of getting paperwork to grant POA, revocation of POA papers will be necessary.
Check out Part 2, which covers the decisions attorneys-in-fact make in place of their service member. Leave us a comment with your questions or concerns!
Photo thanks to ElvertBarnes via Flickr Creative Commons