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Washington Power of Attorney basics

A Washington Power of Attorney grants legal permission to a person you choose, called your Agent, to make important decisions on your behalf. People often create a Power of Attorney as part of their estate plan, but a Power of Attorney can be used whenever there's a need to authorize a trusted friend, family member, or professional to act or make financial, legal, or healthcare decisions for you. You can appoint your Agent to take over if you have a serious illness, are scheduled for major surgery, or have been in a major accident that takes you out of commission for a while. You can also appoint an Agent to represent you in a financial transaction, like the sale of a valuable collection, while you are away on vacation.

You, as the Principal, can choose for this power to begin immediately, on a specific date, or only if you become incapacitated. The powers granted in the Power of Attorney can either end on a specific date or upon your death.


How do you get a Power of Attorney in Washington state?


You can get a Power of Attorney by creating one in a Power of Attorney document that is legal in the state of Washington. Under Washington law, your Agent may exercise the following powers, but only if you specifically grant the authority in your Power of Attorney.

  • Create, amend, revoke or terminate a living trust
  • Make a gift
  • Create or change rights of survivorship
  • Create or change a beneficiary designation
  • Delegate some of the authority granted under the power of attorney
  • Waive the principal's right to be a beneficiary on a joint annuity, including under a retirement plan
  • Exercise certain fiduciary duties
  • Exercise power of appointment to someone other than the principal
  • Create, amend, or revoke a community property agreement
  • Have a trustee distribute property held under a trust
  • Make other arrangements for transfer of property in other non-will documents
  • Make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal
  • Give informed consent to health care decisions on behalf of the principal

Where can I get a Washington Power of Attorney form?


The Rocket Lawyer Washington Power of Attorney document is legal in the state of Washington, and you may want to use it if:

  • You want to give someone broad authorization to act for you if you are absent or otherwise incapable of taking action yourself.
  • You wish to give someone power to handle certain financial or legal issues in your absence or if you become ill.
  • You wish to authorize someone to act on your behalf in case you become legally incompetent or incapacitated.

Does a Power of Attorney need to be notarized in Washington state?


In order to be legally valid under Washington law, a Power of Attorney must be signed and dated by the Principal and either notarized or witnessed by two or more witnesses. If witnesses are chosen, the witnesses cannot be related to the Principal by blood, marriage, or domestic partnership. The witnesses also cannot be care providers in a nursing home or other adult care home.

If the Principal is unable to physically sign their name, the Principal can make a mark consistent with Washington law, or if they are unable to make a mark, they can tell someone orally to make the mark on their behalf.


What are the four types of Power of Attorney?


  • Limited – A Limited Power of Attorney details the specific powers granted to your Agent. For example, it can be limited to only healthcare decisions, or only personal property transactions, such as in real estate.
  • General – A General Power of Attorney grants the Agent a broad authority to act on your behalf on any matters that you would be able to do yourself, such as making financial gifts or selling property.
  • Durable – A Durable Power of Attorney means that the instrument stays in effect even if you become mentally incapactitated, and it lasts until your death. If your Power of Attorney is not durable, then the court would have to make a decision as to who to appoint as guardian or conservator.
  • Springing – This type of Power of Attorney "springs" into action, meaning it becomes effective once a certain event takes place. It can either be a date, a health issue, or some other event that you choose.


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