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Statutory Power of Attorney

 What is a Statutory Power of Attorney?

The Texas legislature authorized the content of a statutory power of attorney which is widely recognized in Texas.  However, if it is used outside of Texas it may generate some problems because of its brevity and the lack of knowledge of applicable Texas law.  Some attorneys prefer to use a non-statutory format for a power of attorney to make the instrument more usable outside of Texas, and also to add authority not addressed or included in the statutory form.  While other attorneys use the statutory form exclusively for their clients.

A power of attorney is an individualís written declaration that grants to someone else the right to act for that individual.  In my opinion it is one of the most powerful documents anyone may ever sign. If you sign a power of attorney, you are authorizing someone else to act for you (or stated differently, to literally become "you" legally) in the areas you enumerate.

 What are some common types of Statutory Powers of Attorney?

The power of attorney may be very specific or limited in authority (for example, to sign documents relating to the sale of a home); or it may be a general grant of all authority (that is, a global grant to act for an individual in any matter whatsoever); or it may terminate upon disability (normally avoided); or it may survive the disability of the individual (that is, a durable power of attorney); or it may be immediately effective; or it may become effective at some future date, or upon the occurrence of a designated event (that is, a springing power of attorney).

Powers or attorney are usually revocable (that is, you may revoke or terminate them at any time).  However, loan documents and commercial leases often contain powers of attorney "coupled with an interest" which may make them irrevocable under the designated contractual circumstances.  In these cases the lender or the landlord desire to protect their significant financial interests by securing the right to sign specific documents in the event the borrower or the tenant declines to act or refuses to act.
Durable powers of attorney are a very important part of estate planning.  Everyone should have either a will or a living trust;  everyone should have a durable power of attorney or a statutory durable power of attorney to cover those tragic circumstances which do not end life but do disable, so that someone may make important (perhaps critical decisions) for you when you canít make decisions yourself; and everyone should have a medical power of attorney authorizing someone to make health care decisions for you when you canít make decisions yourself.

I regularly assist clients in the preparation of statutory powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

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