Power Of Attorney General Power Of Attorney: The Basics

By Rex Bush, Doctor Of Jurisprudence, Attorney At Law

A power of attorney is a legal document. You use it to give someone the power to act for you. You are the principal. He is your agent. The person acting for you is also known as your “attorney-in-fact.”

Two types of powers of attorney are the general power of attorney and the special power of attorney.

A special power of attorney is used to give another person authority to do one single thing.

A general power of attorney is not limited to a specific purpose. If you want someone to be able to act on your behalf while you are out of the country then the general one is what you need.

Now let’s say you are going to Afghanistan, on active duty. You want to give your wife power to do just about anything while you are gone.

Here’s a how a general power of attorney for that purpose might look:

General Power of Attorney

I, Andy Rasmussen, do hereby grant my wife, Jesica Rasmussen, a general power of attorney to perform any action on my behalf and to sign my name to any documents needed to accomplish said actions until I return home.


Signature & Date

A notary seal is not required but if you are leaving the country for military service you might want to dress it up a bit and include a notary section. Then sign the power in front of a notary just so your wife doesn’t have any trouble with it while you are gone.

Now let’s say you are caring for your invalid mother. She’s not mentally incompetent…yet. But, she does want you to take care of her affairs and pay her bills. A general power of attorney is what is called for. Here’s how it might look.

General Power of Attorney

I, Sally Smith, do hereby grant my daughter Louisa Lewis, a general power of attorney to handle any and all of my affairs, to include personal, business and other.

Signature & Date

Once again, given the circumstances it would be best to have a notary section on this one and to get it properly notarized.

Durable Power of Attorney

Let’s say Louisa in the above example is worried about her mother becoming mentally incapacitated. In that case Louisa might have to go to court to get the right to manage her mother’s affairs.

What’s called for is a “durable power of attorney.” It’s still a general power of attorney but in this case we’ll make it durable so it continues even if her mother becomes mentally disabled. Here’s how it might look:

I, Sally Smith, do hereby grant my daughter Louisa Lewis, a general power of attorney to handle any and all of my affairs, to include personal, business and other. This power of attorney shall continue and survive even if I become disabled whether mentally disabled or physically disabled.

Signature & Date

For sure you would want to have this one notarized and it would be best that you had it drafted by or at least approved by an attorney who works primarily in the area of estate planning.

It is common to see some very comprehensive (10-20 page) General Durable Powers of Attorney. The reasoning behind these very thorough documents is that some financial institutions are very reluctant to rely upon broad, sweeping statements that a principal has granted ALL authority to their agent to do WHATEVER they would be able to do.

Some institutions or people who are dealing with an agent want to see very specific language that pertains to the actual transaction that they are carrying out on behalf of the principal. This just raises the comfort level of some people when dealing with an agent.

Also, in some states there is no penalty for not honoring a power of attorney. If someone chooses not to deal with an agent because they have their doubts about the power of attorney there’s no penalty for refusing to honor the power of attorney. At that point, one would have to establish a guardianship/conservatorship (which, of course, is not a very desirable outcome).


A general power of attorney can be a very simple document. However, since they can be used so broadly, it is best that they be given more care and attention than a simple special power of attorney. When dealing with the aged or infirm you should consider a durable power of attorney. Have an attorney draft it or at least review it.


The information on durable powers of attorney was written with the assistance of attorney J. RobRoy Platt of Lehi, Utah. Mr. Platt’s law practice focuses on estate planning issues.


This article is intended to inform about powers of attorney. Please seek legal advice in your state of residence if your power of attorney involves any matter of consequence.

About the Author: In 25 years as an injury attorney Rex Bush has successfully handled over 1014 cases, his largest settlement to date is 3.25 million dollars. Visit his website:

Utah Personal Injury Attorneys



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