Limited Power of Attorney California

Attorney talking to senior lady

Now that you have the opportunity to travel, spend time with the grandchildren, and participate in all of the activities you never had the time to enjoy, giving someone you trust the ability to help out by handling  personal affairs for you may have crossed your mind. It’s really not that difficult to accomplish with a power of attorney. 

Imagine the peace of mind you can have knowing that while you are away on a trip you have a trusted agent back home to sign documents and access bank accounts in order to follow through on your financial decisions without the need for you to take time away from your travels. A power of attorney lets you buy, sell and manage real estate, handle financial matters, and manage personal affairs through an agent who you authorize to do it for you.

You may be reluctant to give broad powers over you financial and personal affairs to another person, even when it is someone that you trust. California has a type of power of attorney that may resolve any reservations you have about using a POA document. Reading through the information presented here about a limited power of attorney may convince you to schedule an appointment to have one prepared for you by an attorney. 

What is a limited power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document created by a  principal to give an agent legal authority to act on the principal’s behalf. A general power of attorney confers broad powers to an agent over a principal’s financial matters and personal affairs until the principal either revokes the POA document or dies.

Sometimes, a principal may only need the services of an agent for a limited time or for one or more specific tasks. For example, if you are selling your home and need someone to handle the real estate transaction while you are on vacation, a limited power of attorney lets you restrict the authority of your agent either to real estate transactions in general or specifically limit its use only to the sale of your house. 

How does a limited power of attorney work?

A limited or special power of attorney is a POA document containing language limiting its purpose, time, or authority granted to the agent. 

The following examples of typical ways a limited POA may be used also show how it works:

  • Add language to a POA limiting its use to a specific event, such as a sale or purchase of a car or specific real estate parcel.
  • Give a power of attorney to your child’s grandparent limited to making decisions about the care and welfare of the child when in the care of the grandparent.
  • If you have surgery scheduled, you may  give a POA to someone authorizing them to handle your personal affairs and make financial decisions only while you remain in the hospital.
  • You may limit the authority of your agent to the signing of a single document, such as a contract for the sale of real property, which would not authorize the agent to sign a deed or other documents in connection with the actual closing or settlement.

You may set whatever limitations you desire on the use of a POA by an agent to satisfy any concerns you have about giving broad, unrestricted authority to another person. 

What are the roles and responsibilities of a limited power of attorney?

As with other types of powers of attorney, California imposes a fiduciary duty on agents requiring them to avoid conflicts of interest, act only in the best interests of the principal, and act only within the scope of the authority granted by the POA. Agents have the right to rely upon the validity of the authority granted to them by their principal, so it is the duty of a principal to inform an agent when a POA has been revoked or terminated.

Do I need a lawyer to get a limited power of attorney?

Although it is possible to create a limited power of attorney without using a lawyer, the legal advice and expert guidance offered by an attorney may prevent you from making mistakes either in drafting or using the document. An experienced attorney also may be able to make suggestions for other types of POA documents to use either in conjunction with or in place of limited powers of attorney based upon your specific needs and circumstances.

How do I get a limited power of attorney?

Most lawyers in private practice have the ability to create a limited power of attorney for you. You also can find examples of durable powers of attorney, which survive the incapacitation of a principal, online. The POA document has a place to add language to make it a limited power of attorney.

Does a limited power of attorney need to be notarized in California?

No, a limited power of attorney does not need to be notarized in California provided the signature of the principal is witnessed by two people, other than the agent, who place their signatures on the POA document. In the absence of witnesses, the power of attorney must be signed by the principal whose signature is acknowledged by a notary public.

Where do I get a limited power of attorney form?

Power of attorney forms, including limited powers of attorney, may be found online. For example, county library services throughout the state offer downloadable and printable forms on their websites.

Conclusion

Now that you have an understanding of powers of attorney and how to use a special or limited power of attorney, schedule a consultation to discuss with an attorney the benefits it may have for you. A reluctance to give someone the legal authority to step into your shoes is normal, but you can structure a limited power of attorney to let you enjoy the benefit and convenience of a POA while limiting the scope of the agent’s authority.

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