Skip Navigation Links

Power of Attorney


A Power of Attorney is a legal document that you (as the "principal") create. It gives another person (your agent, or "attorney-in-fact") the legal authority to act on your behalf. You can give your agent broad, ongoing powers, such as handling all of your finances, or limit him/her to specific actions and dates, for example selling your car while you are away. Your agent may not represent you in court. He or she may not write, change, or revoke your will.

1. BASIC TYPES OF POWER OF ATTORNEY

  • General Financial Power of Attorney: permits the agent to transact any or all business other than health care for the principal.
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney: remains active if the principal becomes incapacitated.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, sometimes called Health Care Power ofAttorney, which California combines with a living will to create an Advance Health Care Directive (see our "Living Wills & Medical Directives" Resource Guide).
  • Limited (or Special) Power of Attorney: used for childcare, for example, allowing the agent to make decisions in place of the parents about school or health care for the children. Incarcerated persons may need one or more PoAs for this and other specific tasks of limited duration. 
  • Military Power of Attorney: Federal law makes special provisions for the drafting of powers of attorney for Military personnel, who should contact their Armed Services Legal Assistance Office for information. Use this link to find a Legal Assistance office near you: http://legalassistance.law.af.mil/content/locator.php
  • Financial Institution Power of Attorney: some banks and other financial institutions (such as CalPERS and the IRS) require that you use their own forms.

2. SELF HELP

The books listed below are in the Law Library. You may also find copies at your public library, in bookstores, or for sale on the publishers' websites.

Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for California. KFC 110 .Z9 I78
Step-by-step instructions for creating financial and healthcare powers of attorney.
Electronic access: On the law library computers, using Nolo Ebooks.

California Power of Attorney Handbook: with Forms. KFC 110 .Z9 T35

Power of Attorney Handbook. KF 1347.Z9 H35
Law summaries and forms for all states; models of related forms, such as the "Affidavit of the Attorney-in-Fact," for third parties who request it for assurance that the document is valid. [Includes FORMS in the book and on an accompanying CD]

3. LEGAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS and PRACTICE GUIDES

California Jurisprudence III KFC 80 .C35
Vol. 2B Agency, Section III, Powers of Attorney. This legal encyclopedia, written by legal experts, examines the law in more detail. It also reviews related case law.
Electronic access: On the law library computers, using Westlaw

California Legal Forms Transaction Guide KFC 68 .C32
Vol. 31 Chapter 98, Powers of Attorney. Provides interpretation of the law, procedures for working with these documents, and language for drafting many specific powers.
Electronic access: On the law library computers, using the LexisNexis CD.

California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives KFC 336 .C35
Attorneys use this comprehensive source for legal interpretation and form drafting.
Electronic access: On the law library computers, using Onlaw.

4. FORMS and EXAMPLES

Most of the books listed above supply either print or electronic access to model forms and general drafting guidelines, which may then be modified to reflect your particular circumstances. The California Probate Code section §4401 supplies 'legally sufficient" language you can use for your own Durable Power of Attorney. If you believe the Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney is sufficient for your needs, you can use the interactive, customizable, and downloadable example on our website: http://www.saclaw.org/pages/forms-page.aspx.

5. STATUTES

California's Probate Code sections §4000 through §4545 contain California's Power of Attorney Law, and outline the responsibilities of both the principal and the agent. The Probate Code is online at www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. Mark the box next to Probate Code and click on "Search" for a hyper-linked table of contents. Alternatively, use the printed code volumes on the shelf at the law library:

6. WEB SITES 



updated 8/11 kb