How to Get Power of Attorney in Texas

How to Get Power of Attorney in Texas

by Edward A. Haman, Esq., October 2017

To make it easy to get a power of attorney, Texas has created fairly simple forms for both a financial and a health care power of attorney.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the authority to act for you in certain matters. In Texas, the legislature has created two power of attorney forms: one for medical treatment, and one for everything else.

Basic Terminology

To understand powers of attorney, it is necessary to know the following basic terms:

Principal. The person who signs a power of attorney.

Agent or Attorney-in-Fact. The person who is given the authority to act for the principal.

Durable Power of Attorney. Traditionally, the agent's authority ended if the principal became mentally incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows the agent's authority to continue in such a situation.

Springing Power of Attorney. Traditionally, the agent's authority began the moment the power of attorney was signed by the principal. A springing power of attorney delays the time that the agent's authority begins until a certain event occurs, such as the principal's becoming mentally or physically incapable of making or communicating decisions. In Texas, this is called being “disabled or incapacitated."

General Power of Attorney. This gives someone the authority to act in a broad range of matters, such as buying and selling real estate and personal property, handling banking, managing investments, operating a business, handling taxes and lawsuits, and applying for government benefits. The general power of attorney Texas has created is titled: Statutory Durable Power of Attorney.

Medical Power of Attorney. This is a special type of power of attorney that gives the agent the authority to make medical treatment decisions for you if you become mentally or physically unable to make your own decisions. By its very nature, a medical power of attorney is both a durable and a springing power of attorney.

Texas Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

The durable power of attorney Texas has created for financial matters is set forth in Section 752.051 of the Texas Estates Code. It is titled “Statutory Durable Power of Attorney," and it provides for your agent to have all types of powers, except for medical treatment decisions. It is a statutory power of attorney because it was created by the Texas legislature and is part of the Texas Statutes. It is a durable power of attorney because it gives your agent the authority to act if you become disabled or incapacitated. The form is easy to use, and includes information to help you fill in the blanks with the needed information.

Texas Medical Power of Attorney

The Texas medical power of attorney form is set forth in Sections 166.163 and 166.164 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. Designating a medical power of attorney is part of the overall process of completing what are also referred to as Advance Directives for medical care. By using the power of attorney form Texas has created by law, it is more likely that it will be accepted by health care providers, since it will be a familiar form to them. This form also is easy to use, and includes information to help you fill in the blanks with the necessary information.

Where to Get Forms

The Texas power of attorney forms may be found in the Texas Statutes (either in the bound volumes or from the State of Texas website); however, they are very user-friendly from either of these sources. More user-friendly versions may be found from various online resources. They may also be available through your local library, or found in a business and legal forms section at an office supply store.