California Power of Attorney requirements

The state of California laws considers any person over 18 years, who can read and understand a contract capable of creating a power of attorney.  The document is legally binding and should be written according to regulations and requirements of the California Probate Code (Sections 4000 through 4465).

The power of attorney in California is considered valid by the law if:

  • Has the date which the principal and the agent signed the power of attorney
  • It is signed by the principal
  • Signed by another person on behalf of the principal on instances where the principal cannot sign. However, the principal should be available and ensure the assigned person puts in their signature
  • Signed or notarized in front of two other witnesses

Given a healthcare directive, it must be signed by the principal in front of two witnesses or notarized in public.  The witnesses are also supposed to sign the directive. However, it is crucial to understand that the health care provider or their employee and the agent cannot be witnesses in this matter.

Acquiring the power of attorney in California

The state of California recommends using a similar language to those found in the official forms downloaded at the Sacramento County Public Law Library.  It does not however require you to use the exact forms therein and should be customized to suit the needs at hand.

For one to acquire the power of attorney, both the principal (one giving) and the agent (one receiving) should fill and sign the California power of attorney form. Some of the powers that the principal hands over include:

  • Bills payments
  • Bank transactions matters
  • Negotiation deals and signing contracts
  • Handling purchases such as vehicles and home purchases
  • Filing tax returns with the IRS
  • Supplemental Security Income or California Medical Assistance Program application
  • Real estate
  • Arranging distribution of retirement benefits among other things

California Probate Code Section 4264 indicates that an agent cannot change or make a will.  The phrase in the power of attorney, all other powers granted, does not mean that the agent can perform all tasks. There is a limit and the will make or change is one.  An agent is however allowed to set trust on behalf of the principal if only indicated on the power of attorney form.

Revoking the power of attorney

The power of attorney comes into play effective immediately unless there is a specified for its effect. The powers of attorney in California cease when the principal dies.  As such, the last testament or will be declared by the principal takes over.

It is illegal for the agents to use the principal’s assets and property or gift themselves stuff belonging to the principal without their consent. Unless gifted, an agent can be charged by California law with elder abuse for taking money or property of over 65 years old principal without consent.