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What is a General Power Attorney?

general power of attorney is a written document that grants someone (the agent) extensive rights to act on behalf of another person (the principal). An agent can use the general power of attorney to buy or sell stocks for the principal, open or close bank accounts in the principal's name, or invoke or waive the principal's contractual rights. Anyone 18 years or older and of sound mind can create a general power of attorney in Texas. The term “Sound mind” means that the signee must be capable of independent reasoning and understand the extent of authority they give to the agent. General powers of attorney terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated, so they are not ideal for medical directives or end-of-life planning. Other kinds of Texas Power of Attorney, such as medical durability, may be considered better alternatives.

Why Would You Need a General Power of Attorney in Texas?

Texans can create a general power of attorney if they can still manage their affairs but want someone else to care for them. Specifically, a general power of attorney should be considered if a person:

  • Travels out of the country frequently
  • Has a high-risk job
  • Is diagnosed with a severe illness that would not allow them to run their affairs themselves
  • Has a property or business that needs maintenance when the person is unavailable.
  • Wants a specific person to be responsible for their affairs
  • Is approaching old age and wants someone to represent them on some issues

Benefits of Having a Power of Attorney in Place

  • It allows a person to freely choose whoever they trust to make decisions on their behalf.
  • It allows people to discuss their desires and wishes with their loved ones. This is possible if the person intends to choose their family members as multiple agents for the POA.
  • A POA gives individuals who travel a lot of rest of mind, knowing that someone is managing their assets while they are away.
  • Helps people with issues with managing work and family have free time to spend more time with family.

Potential Risks of Not Having a Power of Attorney

  • People who travel a lot might miss a lot of deadlines, which can make them lose their assets.
  • Individuals struggling to manage their finances but refuse to have a POA and choose a professional, as their agents can misuse their funds and incur debts.

How to Use General Power of Attorney in Texas?

The legal requirements for using general power of attorney in Texas are that the principal must be 18 years of age or older and mentally capable of making decisions on behalf of the agent. Both the principal and the agent must sign and notarize the POA. Below are the procedures for executing and recording a Power of Attorney in Texas:

Step 1: Select the agent for the POA document. The principal should speak to the person they want to be their agent beforehand and ensure they are willing to take on the responsibility. Always choose a trustworthy agent with no hidden agenda. Principals can also hire the services of a professional.

Step 2: Determine the agent’s responsibilities. The principal must know what tangible and intangible assets the agent should handle on their behalf. At this point, the principal should also decide whether to work with one or multiple agents.

Step 3: Get a power of attorney form. Texans can access free POA templates online or create one for themselves. They can also hire a Texas attorney for this step. The POA form must contain the names, counties, and signatures of both the principal and agent and clearly state the agent's responsibilities.

Step 4: Notarize the document. Texas law requires that a general power of attorney be signed in the presence of a notary public. The notary is responsible for verifying that the principal and agent are willing to sign the document.

Step 5: Record the document. Record the POA with the appropriate record custodian. For example, real estate POA must be filed and recorded with the Clerk’s Office in the county where the property is located.

Step 5: Serve the POA. Give copies of the POA form to the agent, family members, bank, and. credit union. If the POA replaces an older one, ensure anyone who has seen the former one gets this new copy.

Step 6: Safekeeping. Keep the document somewhere that is protected but quick to access in an emergency. Using the same place where other important papers are kept is advisable. The principal should try not to use a bank safety deposit box, storage box, or locker with a passcode only known to them. Let the agent know where to find the POA. It is okay to keep an electronic copy, but financial institutions may insist on seeing the original signed copy.

Step 7: Keep the POA updated. Review the general POA every three to five years or whenever a significant life change occurs, like marriage.

Who Should be selected as the Agent for this type of PofA?

The legal requirement for selecting an agent is to opt for someone sound and aged 18 and above. However, it is vital to be very careful before choosing an agent because of the powers a POA grants them. It is very good to choose an agent that is honest and trustworthy. This is why most principals choose someone very close to them, like family members or close friends, as their agents. They have known these people for a long time and are certain of their honesty and trustworthiness. Below are other qualities to look for in an agent:

  • Effective communicator: It is important to choose an agent who can communicate effectively, especially in high-pressure situations. The agent might face stressful situations that require communicating with several third parties and making decisions on the spot. An agent with great communication skills will be able to handle such situations well in the principal’s best interest. An agent who easily gets overwhelmed may find it difficult to communicate important messages verbally.
  • Assertive: Always choose an agent not easily swayed by outside opinions. A principal should select someone who stands their ground to fulfill their wishes, even when it’s unpopular.
  • Availability and proximity: A principal must consider accessibility and proximity when choosing an agent for their general power of attorney. Opting for an agent who lives nearby or in the same area as their properties can make it easier for them to handle property-related matters promptly. Additionally, the principal must ensure that the agent can effectively dedicate the time required to manage their affairs. Someone too busy to devote sufficient time to managing the principal’s tangible and intangible assets is not the best choice.
  • Knowledgeable: The agent may need to make essential decisions on the principal’s behalf, and knowledge of the tangible and intangible assets could undoubtedly be useful.
  • Highly organized: The agent will need to keep track of the principal’s financial affairs and handle various paperwork. Therefore, it is vital to choose an organized and detail-oriented person to help ensure everything is properly handled.
  • Attention to detail: The person who wants to make decisions on behalf of the principal must be someone who thoroughly understands their situation and wishes. The person should be willing to pay close attention to the principal’s finances and real estate to responsibly manage their financial assets and investments and provide detailed information about the assets when necessary.
  • Teamwork: The agent may have to work with third parties like accountants, bankers, lawyers, family members, or realtors. Therefore, opt for someone who can cooperate effectively with others to minimize conflicts.
  • Shared values: Principals should choose agents whose core beliefs regarding essential matters are similar to theirs. The agent should be someone who prioritizes the principal’s values and best interests regardless of personal bias.

Who Can Be an Agent?

Under Texas law, principals can choose anyone at least 18 years old and of sound mind to be their POA agent. There are no restrictions on who can be a POA agent in Texas as long as the age and mental requirements are met. The person does not have to be a professional; it can be a close friend, family member, or someone the principal trusts to act in their best interest. It’s a good idea to check with the person first before stating them as an agent in a POA to make sure they are willing and able to serve in that capacity.

Can there be More than One Agent?

Yes. A principal may designate more than one person to act as co-agents in a general power of attorney. Unless otherwise stated in the general POA, each agent can exercise authority independently of the other agent. The principal can also appoint one or multiple successor agents to act if an agent dies, is not qualified to serve, resigns, declines to serve, or becomes incapacitated. Having multiple agents has its own pros and cons:

Advantages of Having Multiple Agents

  • Having multiple agents can make managing financial and estate issues faster and easier. For instance, if a principal has properties and investments within and outside the town, they might want to have agents located in those places. This will help ensure the agents can meet personally with real estate agents, bankers, and financial planners in the town where the properties are located.
  • Individuals who own different kinds of assets, such as real estate and artwork, might want to have separate agents who are experts in handling those assets. Having an expert handle one’s assets helps ensure that the best decisions are made to protect them.

Disadvantages of Having Multiple Agents

  • Confusion may arise if the agents are given authority to act independently because one agent might not be unaware of what the other agent is doing.
  • If the agents need to reach an agreement to act on behalf of the principal, the task can be very time-consuming and involve many hassles.
  • The potential for conflict is much greater when a principal has multiple agents. Such conflicts can lead to delays in handling important matters or even expensive court battles.
  • Third parties like financial institutions may find it difficult to work with a principal with multiple agents due to concerns about fraud.

Procedures for Specifying the Roles and Responsibilities of Each Agent

First, the principal should list the tangible and intangible assets they want someone to handle. Second, a different POA for each group of assets should be created. For example, there should be a POA for all real estate property and another for finances. Third, choose a trustworthy agent for each POAs. The principal can appoint someone with expertise in real estate, like a realtor, to handle the real estate POA and a financial advisor for a financial POA. Lastly, state the POA's expiry date and outline each agent's specific duties.

How to Get General Power of Attorney in Texas

Contacting a lawyer to get a general power of attorney is recommended. This is because the document has to be accurate to become effective. The lawyer would also help review the comment and answer any questions the principal might have.

Follow the steps below to create and execute a general power of attorney in Texas:

Potential Fees and Costs Associated with Creating a Power of Attorney

Creating a power of attorney does not cost much. In fact, individuals can get POA templates online at no cost. However, a fee is required to notarize the document. Texas notaries charge $10 to sign a document. Individuals who hire lawyers to help create a POA should be ready to pay attorney fees ranging from $200 to $500.

How to Write General Power of Attorney in Texas

The easiest way to write a general power of attorney in Texas is to get a template online. However, individuals can follow the framework below to create their own general POA:

The Opening Paragraph

This section must contain the names and counties of the principal and agent. Consider using the template below for the opening paragraph:

I, _______________________ (insert your name) of the County of _____________________, appoint _____________________(insert the agent’s name) of ______________________ County as my agent to act for me in any lawful way concerning all of the following powers that I have initialed below.

Then, list the instructions the agent must follow. Be as specific as possible. Close the paragraph with the date (in day-month-year format) and the principal’s signature in this format.

Signed this day of ,.


(principal's signature)

The Acknowledgment section

The notary public must complete this section. Below is a template the creator may follow:

State of ______________________

County of ______________________

This document was acknowledged before me on ______________________ (date) by ______________________ (name of principal).

(Seal, if any, of notary) ______________________

(signature of notarial officer)


(printed name)

My commission expires: ______________________

How Often Must I Update my General power of attorney?

The Texas government does not provide a time frame for updating general power of attorney. However, financial institutions make up rules about accepting the documents. Therefore, updating the POA every few years is advisable to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects all life developments. Individuals who want to update their existing general power of attorney should revoke their current document and create a new POA that includes the necessary updates.

Below are other situations where changes might be needed:

  • Changes in Texas legislation on POA
  • The principal or agent moves to another state
  • If the principal or agent changes their legal name
  • The principal wants to add or remove certain information in the POA
  • If the agent dies or becomes unsuitable because of mental incapacity or poor health.
  • The principal experiences change in life events like marriage, birth, or divorce.
  • If the agent is unwilling to continue the job or there is a falling out between the principal and the agent.

Recommendations on how to review and update a power of attorney regularly

  • Consult a Texas-based legal practitioner when reviewing and updating a general POA.
  • Check the current regulations in Texas and how they affect the document.

Does the Agent have to Follow the Principal’s Wishes in General Power of Attorney?

Yes, an agent must strictly adhere to the principal's wishes as stated in the general power of attorney. They must act in the principal’s best interest at all times. That is why it is best to opt for a trustworthy agent. The agent’s authority terminates when the principal dies or becomes incapacitated. Additionally, an agent cannot perform the following duties on the principal’s behalf (Texas Estate Code § 752.052):

  • Create or change rights of survivorship.
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation.
  • Create, change, revoke, or terminate an inter vivos trust
  • Authorize a third-party to exercise the authority granted under the power of attorney

What Decision-Making Power Does the General P of A Grant the Agent?

A general P of A grants an agent broad decision-making powers to act on behalf of the principal. This power encompasses the principal’s tangible and intangible assets like:

  • Tax matters
  • Claims and litigation
  • Real property transactions
  • Stock and bond transactions
  • Retirement plan transactions
  • Business operating transactions
  • Personal and family maintenance
  • Insurance and annuity transactions
  • Insurance and annuity transactions
  • Commodity and option transactions
  • Tangible personal property transactions
  • Estate, trust, and other beneficiary transactions
  • Banking and other financial institution transactions
  • Digital assets and the content of an electronic communication
  • Benefits from Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, or other governmental programs or civil or military service

When Does the General P of A Start and How Long Does it Last?

The general power of attorney starts when signing the document or at a specific time designated by the principal. The duration of a general power of attorney varies depending on what powers are authorized and for what purpose. Typically, a general power of attorney expires:

  • When a guardian is appointed for the principal’s estate
  • When the principal dies or is deemed to be incapacitated
  • After a specific date specified in the document
  • Once a specified task has been accomplished
  • When the principal revokes the document
  • The agent resigns, is unable to act on the principal’s behalf, or is removed by a court order

Can The General P of A be Revoked?

Yes, a general P of A can be revoked in Texas. A principal can revoke the document at any time without anyone’s permission. The original and copies of a power of attorney can be destroyed. However, it is best to have a written revocation. Note that a written revocation is not mandatory in Texas. The principal can download a revocation of power of attorney template online or create one themselves. The written revocation statement must contain the agent’s name and the date the power of attorney was created. Afterward, sign the revocation before a notary. A copy of the revocation should be given to the agent in person or by certified mail. Additionally, copies of the revocation should be given to all parties (individuals, financial institutions, and businesses) the agent dealt with on behalf of the principal.

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