Limited (Special) Power of Attorney Forms

The Limited (Special) Power of Attorney Forms are contracts that stipulate legally binding terms for an individual or entity (called the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact) to fulfill one or more specific tasks on behalf of the form’s creator (the Principal). Unlike some Power of Attorney (POA) arrangements that delegate extensive decision-making powers to the Agent, a Limited POA only authorizes the Agent to represent the Principal in the specific contexts provided for in the form. The Agent is therefore restricted to only work within the strict confines set by this contract’s unique terms.

Limited Power of Attorneys by State

What is a Limited Power of Attorney?

A Limited Power of Attorney is a type of Power of Attorney characterized by the highly-specific nature of the tasks involved. While the terms of some POA forms permit the Agent to act across several areas, a Limited Power of Attorney constrains the Agent’s powers to tasks connected to a singular area set by the Principal.

The reason many people find this type of Power of Attorney appealing is because it makes it possible for the Principal to impose clear limitations on the Agent’s powers. Without clear boundaries, the Agent will have the legal capacity to perform actions on the Principal’s behalf in an unconstrained way.

If the Principal only requires certain tasks to be completed, it is not in their best interests to make the terms of the contract broad. This could lead to the Agent to perform tasks that the Principal does neither need nor want to be performed. That is why in such circumstances it makes sense to create a POA—namely, a Limited Power of Attorney—that will only include terms grant the Agent the powers that are essential for completing the special tasks the Principal requires.

How to Get a Limited Power of Attorney?

A Limited Power of Attorney does require care to execute correctly, however, there are only five main steps that need to be completed in order to get one.

1. Assess and select who will be an ideal Agent / Attorney-in-Fact

Once the Principal has decided to proceed with creating a Limited Power of Attorney, they must then asses and select who is most fitting to carry out the role of their Agent for the entirety of the contract’s duration. If the Principal is still deciding which type of POA will best suit their needs, they should compare different types of POA forms to find the right one for their situation.

2. Fill out a Limited Power of Attorney form

Following the selection of their Agent, the Principal can then work their way through a Limited POA Attorney form. The form will comprise wholly or mainly of mandatory sections.

3. Check for and follow any state signing requirements

Each state may have its own set of signing requirements tied to Power of Attorney agreements. Some states require notarization and/or the presence of witnesses, while other states do not have any mandatory requirements. In such cases, it is still advisable for the Principal to have their signature acknowledged by these parties.

4. Give the Agent a copy of the contract

As they are also party to it, the Principal must ensure they give the Agent a copy of the completed Limited Power of Attorney form.

5. As soon as the contract begins, both parties must continually uphold it

Any responsibilities and duties the Principal and Agent respectively carry, as per the terms of the contract, must be continually upheld by both parties as soon as the contract begins.

How to Revoke a Limited Power of Attorney?

The primary way a Limited Power of Attorney can be revoked is by the Principal executing a legal document called a Revocation of Power of Attorney. This form makes a legally-binding record of the Principal’s determination to revoke the POA.

The legal requirements for a Revocation of POA to be executed are state-dependent, so the Principal must refer to their respective state’s POA laws to ensure legal compliance. A typical Revocation of POA will require the Principal to provide details of the parties involved in the POA and the date from which they wish to terminate the arrangement.

Many states demand the presence of witnesses and/or a Notary Public (or other individual authorized to take acknowledgments) as a means of safeguarding the rights of the Principal.

While not recommended, some states offer the Principal the option of destroying it by means such as tearing it up or burning it. If this route is taken, all copies of the document will need to be destroyed. The reason it is not recommended is because in comparison to a written revocation, it is substantially harder to prove the revocation took place if there is ever a dispute about it.

Limited Power of Attorney FAQ

– How long is a Limited POA good for?

The simple answer is that a Limited POA is good for as long as a) the terms the contract state and b) all parties involved are still in a capable state and/or are willing for it to endure.

a) The contract’s terms

The terms of the contract will partly dictate how long it will be good for. For example, if there is an expiration clause, the Limited POA will expire at the time of the specified date or circumstances. A Limited POA will usually specify whether it is durable or general. That is, whether it will respectively continue or terminate if the Principal one day becomes incapacitated.

Moreover, if the Agent successfully completes the duties assigned to them, this will result in the contract terminating.

b) The state and willingness of the parties involved

The state of the Principal and Agent will also impact how long the Limited POA is good for.

  • If the Principal becomes incapacitated: As discussed above, the contract will end if it is general in nature. If it is durable in nature, it will continue as normal.
  • If the Principal dies: If the Principal dies, the contract will terminate.
  • If the Agent becomes incapacitated or dies: Unless a successor Agent has been named in the contract and they are willing to absorb the original Agent’s role, it will terminate.

The willingness of the Principal and Agent to continue their respective roles in the Limited POA is another factor to consider. Both parties have the right to leave the contract, although the means by which they may do so may differ. State laws usually provide guidance on how a Principal may revoke the POA, as explained above. Whereas, an Agent may exit the POA in line with the terms of the contract, or if the contract is silent on this matter, a formal letter of resignation.

– What can go wrong with a Limited POA?

As is the case with any legal contract, there is a possibility that something may go wrong. In order to minimize the possibility of something going wrong, it is useful to look at some examples of problems that may be encountered, as the table below shows:

Examples of What Can Go Wrong With a Limited POA

  Possible consequenceHow to Prevent it From Happening
Problem:The terms of the Limited POA are not sufficiently clear.The Agent misunderstands or is unclear about what their duties entail.Ensure all parties understand the implications of the contract prior to signing. If anyone is unclear, the terms should be further clarified.
Problem:The terms of the Limited POA are too limited. The Agent is not authorized to perform tasks that the Principal intended them to perform.When the Principal is drafting the POA, they should ensure that the terms adequately permit the Agent to act on their behalf in the way they wish them to.
Problem:The terms of the Limited POA does not specify what will happen if the Principal becomes incapacitated.Some state laws establish that if a POA does not explicitly state that it will continue upon the Principal's incapacity, it will be terminated in such an event.The Principal should clearly state in the contract whether they wish for it to be durable (continue upon their incapacitation) or general (end upon their incapacitation).
Problem:The Agent is not suitable due to their lack of commitment to the role or their lack of skills.The Agent is unable to effectively carry out the duties that have been assigned to them.The Principal must select an Agent who is both responsible and skilled in the area relevant to their POA.

While there are indeed problems that cannot be prevented, many of the problems stem from how the terms of the contract are written. It is therefore strongly recommended that the Principal receives assistance when completing the POA.

– Does a Limited POA have to be notarized?

Only certain states impose mandatory requirements for a Limited Power of Attorney to be notarized by a Notary Public or another individual authorized to take acknowledgements. If an individual wishing the execute a Power of Attorney in a state that imposes this requirement fails to do so, their Limited POA will be rendered legally invalid.

For this reason, the importance of consulting state laws about the specific signing requirements demanded of a Principal cannot be stressed enough.

In order to find out which states have this requirement, simply select a state from the list above and scroll to the “Signing Requirements” section on the page.

– Where can I get a Limited POA?

An individual wishing to execute a Limited Power of Attorney must get a form that upholds their state laws. Some states will provide a specific form that must be used. Other states will describe in their Power of Attorney laws any mandatory requirements that must be upheld in the form used.

If a POA form is available from the Principal’s state government, it may be downloaded online from the respective department’s website. If it is not mandatory to use a specific form, an individual may choose to call on the services of a lawyer to help them create the form.

The problem with completing a blank legal form is that it can be confusing for anyone without a legal background. Given the fact that a POA is a legally-binding contract, it is risky to complete one without any guidance. On the other hand, a lawyer will provide expert guidance, but this will come at a substantial financial cost of thousands of dollars.

Another alternative is to use an online legal form builder to create the Limited POA, such as the one provided above. The primary advantages of a form builder is that it not only provides an individual with step-by-step guidance to complete that form, it is also significantly more affordable than hiring a lawyer. Moreover, reputable online form builders will ensure that an individual uses the right POA form by providing state-specific legal forms to be used (including government-supplied forms where necessary).