The time it takes to get a power of attorney depends on how long it takes you to satisfy all of your state’s requirements regarding this particular legal document.
Exact processes may differ by state, so it’s best to check your state’s laws before proceeding. However, in general, states require a power of attorney document to have the correct legal language and be signed and notarized by both parties before a pair of witnesses.
You could feasibly draft and notarize a power of attorney in as little as a few hours if you’re well-organized and have all of the requirements prepared. Some online sources, such as LegalZoom, will generate a power of attorney for you, but it will take at least two days to deliver the necessary documents to you.
You may also want to find a lawyer to draft a power of attorney as part of an estate plan. Hiring a lawyer will take longer than writing the document yourself or using an online service. However, it will ensure the document meets its legal requirements. It might also be worthwhile to consult a lawyer because a power of attorney grants such wide decision-making authority to the attorney-in-fact (the person receiving the power to act on behalf of another).
How to Get a Power of Attorney
You could draft a power of attorney yourself and hire a notary, but it is best to use a professional service because the document is legally binding and must meet strict requirements. It’s important to make sure the document contains the proper language; it may not be valid if it doesn’t meet your state’s statutes. Blank power of attorney templates that you can find online may not suffice.
You might also need to find two uninterested, objective witnesses and find a notary. Even if your state doesn’t require you to notarize a power of attorney, it is smart to do so, because some businesses may not accept it if it isn’t notarized.
For more information about the notarizing process, see our article about how much it costs to get something notarized.
Prices for online power of attorney services range from around $20 to $45. Hiring a lawyer will vary in cost depending on your location and whether you bundle a power of attorney with related estate documents. Some lawyers will charge their hourly rate — usually anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour — or you may be able to negotiate a per-document cost.
Reasons to Get a Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is a legally binding document that grants one individual the ability to make decisions about finances, health care, and other important matters. It is most typically used when a person is elderly or ill and needs someone to make financial or health care decisions on their behalf. The person they appoint as attorney-in-fact is often a family member. Power of attorney is also useful when someone is leaving the country for an extended time and needs someone else to manage their affairs.
A power of attorney can be customized to grant the attorney-in-fact the power to:
- Manage real estate
- Buy personal property
- Conduct banking transactions
- Purchase marketable securities
- Manage businesses
- Make retirement arrangements
- Implement estates
- Hire legal representation
- Collect government benefits
- Provide for family members
- Gift money or assets to others
How to Change a Power of Attorney
If your situation changes after filing a power attorney document, a power of attorney can be adjusted to grant the attorney-in-fact more or less authority. You can also transfer a power of attorney to a different person. To do this, the principal on the document — the person granting power of attorney — must have legal mental capacity, which may require a doctor’s evaluation if there is any doubt.
To change or transfer power of attorney, you must revoke the old document and draft a new one using the process detailed above. It may be worth consulting a lawyer to make sure the former power of attorney and all associated documents are properly revoked. If you are issuing a revocation on your own, it must be detailed in writing, notarized, and submitted to the attorney-in-fact. You may also need to submit it to your bank or any other offices which recorded the initial power of attorney.