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Types of Power of Attorney in Alabama


In Alabama, the specifics of establishing and executing a POA are governed by state laws, which underscore the importance of adhering to legal stipulations to ensure the document’s validity and effectiveness. Understanding the different types of POAs — such as durable, non-durable, medical and springing — and their respective applications can significantly influence decision-making processes and outcomes. If you’re not sure how to establish your own power of attorney or what your estate planning needs are, consider working with a financial advisor.

How a Power of Attorney Works in Alabama

A power of attorney (POA) is a pivotal legal instrument that enables one individual, known as the agent, to make decisions on behalf of another, referred to as the principal. This arrangement becomes particularly significant in scenarios where the principal is unable to manage their own affairs due to illness, incapacity or absence. A POA can encompass the management of the principal’s financial matters, making healthcare decisions and handling business transactions.

For a POA to be considered valid in Alabama, it must bear the principal’s signature, which needs to be notarized to affirm its authenticity.

The state acknowledges both durable and non-durable forms of POA. A durable POA remains effective even if the principal later becomes incapacitated, making it a critical tool for long-term planning. A non-durable POA, on the other hand, loses its validity if the principal does not have the capacity to make decisions. This distinction is important to note when planning for aging or progressive diseases.

Types of Power of Attorney in Alabama

A man researching different powers of attorney in Alabama.

Alabama recognizes several powers of attorney, each tailored to different needs and scenarios. These include general, durable, non-durable, medical, financial and springing powers of attorney. Each has its own unique purpose and operates slightly differently. Let’s take a look at how they work:

  1. General power of attorney: A general power of attorney can empower the agent to manage the principal’s financial transactions, real estate matters and business operations, among other financial affairs. This type of POA could be useful in scenarios where the principal may be out of the country or otherwise incapacitated temporarily. However, it is important to note that in Alabama, a general power of attorney does not extend to healthcare decisions and will cease to be effective if the principal becomes incapacitated unless it is explicitly made durable.
  2. Financial power of attorney: A financial power of attorney allows the principal to designate an agent to handle specific financial responsibilities, such as managing bank accounts, real estate transactions and tax filings. This type of POA ensures that the principal’s financial matters are attended to without interruption, thereby safeguarding assets and maintaining financial stability, especially in unforeseen circumstances of illness or incapacity.
  3. Medical power of attorney: A medical power of attorney enables the principal to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. This includes decisions about medical treatments, hospital care and other health-related issues. The scope of the agent’s decision-making power can be specifically tailored to align with the principal’s healthcare preferences, which must be communicated clearly in the POA document to ensure that the agent’s decisions reflect the principal’s desires.
  4. Durable power of attorney: Distinguished by its resilience, a durable power of attorney in Alabama remains effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. This type of POA is invaluable for long-term planning, as it ensures continuous management of the principal’s affairs without the need for court intervention. To be considered durable, the POA must explicitly state its enduring nature, which underscores the necessity of precise legal drafting to ensure its effectiveness under the desired circumstances.
  5. Non-durable power of attorney: A non-durable power of attorney in Alabama is designed for short-term use and is automatically revoked either when the principal becomes incapacitated or when the specific task it was issued for is completed. This type of POA is ideal for situations requiring temporary financial management, such as a single real estate transaction or managing personal affairs during a brief absence.
  6. Springing power of attorney: The springing power of attorney in Alabama is unique in that it becomes effective only upon the occurrence of a specified event, usually the incapacitation of the principal as confirmed by medical evaluation. While this type of POA allows for greater control over when the powers are transferred to the agent, it can also lead to delays in decision-making, potentially complicating urgent matters.

How to Create a Power of Attorney in Alabama

Creating a power of attorney (POA) in Alabama is a significant legal action that allows an individual, known as the principal, to designate another person, referred to as the agent, to make decisions on their behalf. This document is particularly crucial in scenarios where the principal might become incapacitated or unable to manage their affairs personally. Here is the general process of creating a POA in Alabama:

  • Complete the state-specific POA form: The principal must fill out a form that includes their full name, address and the extent of powers granted to the agent.
  • Sign in the presence of two witnesses: The form needs to be signed by the principal and two adult witnesses, who must also sign to affirm that the principal voluntarily executed the document.
  • Consider notarization: Although not mandatory in Alabama, notarization is highly recommended as it significantly enhances the form’s acceptability to third parties.
  • Specify the type of POA: Clearly state whether the powers granted are durable, meaning they remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated or non-durable.

Bottom Line

A senior couple reviewing the requirements to set up a power of attorney in Alabama.

A power of attorney (POA) can enable individuals to designate agents who can act on their behalf in various capacities, including financial, medical and general affairs. This legal instrument is particularly useful when the principal is incapacitated or absent, ensuring that their affairs are managed according to their wishes without interruption. Alabama’s specific legal stipulations for creating and executing a POA, such as the necessity for notarization and the distinction between durable and non-durable forms, underscore the importance of understanding local laws to implement this document effectively.

Tips for Estate Planning

  • A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan to protect your assets and respect your wishes later in life. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before trying to complete your estate plan on your own, consider the potential dangers of DIY estate planning.

Photo credit: © Zivokovic, © Markovic, © Danilovic