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What is a Massachusetts Power of Attorney?

A Massachusetts power of attorney is a legal form that acts as the authorization for an individual, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions, healthcare decisions, real estate decisions, or estate decisions on behalf of the person granting this authority. A Massachusetts POA is often used for estate planning. However, there are other instances where a POA is a useful tool.

Quick References:

The person granting permission is referred to as the principal, donor, or grantor.

The person receiving authorization is known as the agent or the attorney-in-fact.

MA POA Laws:

A Massachusetts power of attorney implies that the POA complies with Massachusetts’ Power of Attorney Act (Chapter 190B). This act specifically outlines the parameters of a legally enforceable power of attorney. It ensures that the form, as well as its duties, are protected under the law. Some of the requirements to create a POA in Massachusetts include:

  • The principal must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and not under undue influence at the time the POA is created.
  • The principal must sign the POA in the presence of two adult witnesses who are also of sound mind and also not under undue influence.

The principal can explicitly state which powers the agent can and cannot use on their behalf. The principal can revoke (terminate) the power of attorney, even if it is durable, as long as they are competent. Additionally, under state law, a POA also terminates when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapacitated and the POA is not durable.
  • The purpose of the power of attorney is fulfilled.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns, and there is no co-agent or successor agent named in the POA.

Why Would You Use a Massachusetts Power of Attorney Form?

There are several reasons why someone would use a Massachusetts power of attorney form to give someone the authority to make decisions related to their tangible personal property, financial institution transactions, tax matters, or their well-being. Some of those reasons include:

  • Age, mental health reasons, and illnesses. They may want their affairs handled in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone, including those who are terminally ill and those in perfect health, establish the right powers of attorney to have their matters appropriately handled and their wishes fulfilled.
  • A person with a mental illness may require a different type of power of attorney than a person with a terminal illness.
  • A person with dependent children may have the need for a different power of attorney than a person with no dependent children.

Each person’s power of attorney needs may vary. Thankfully, there are several types of power of attorney documents. Before you decide to use a power of attorney, you should seek legal advice. Ask about the best POA to suit your needs and how to revoke a power of attorney if it becomes necessary. Here are a few of the most common.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants an agent broad power to handle matters on behalf of the principal.

  • However, upon the incapacity of the principal or upon the death of the principal, the POA loses its validity. The principal can also revoke this POA as long as they are competent.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is an "extended version" of a general power of attorney because it goes beyond the parameters of a general power of attorney.

  • The term "durable" comes from the fact that this authorization continues over the principal if they were to become disabled or incapacitated. The principal can revoke a durable power of attorney as long as they are competent. A durable power of attorney is not the same thing as an advanced healthcare directive.

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney grants limited power to whatever the principal specifies.

  • In many cases, an agent will have the power to make financial decisions or make medical decisions, but will not have the authority to do other things such as sell property (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority diminishes if the principal dies, becomes incapacitated, or if the principal revokes the document. A limited power of attorney also terminates once its purpose is fulfilled.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney appoints a healthcare agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal.

  • A medical power of attorney can be nondurable or durable. When it is nondurable, the incapacity of the principal renders the POA useless. If the POA is durable, the agent can continue to make decisions if the principal is declared incompetent or incapacitated, but the agent may not make end-of-life decisions. Instead, the principal should complete a living will or appoint a healthcare proxy in an advance healthcare directive. Hampshire College provides a free PDF download of an advanced healthcare directive.

Guardian of Minor Child Power of Attorney

Guardian of minor child power of attorney allows a parent or guardian to grant decision-making rights over their child to a temporary guardian in the case that the parent or guardian may not be present during a medical emergency.

  • This form is generally used if the parent or guardian must leave the country for a period of time. This form is also used if the minor child is temporarily living or traveling with an adult who is not their parent or guardian.

Real Estate Power of Attorney

A real estate power of attorney grants power to the agent to buy, sell, and manage real estate on the principal's behalf.

  • It has the flexibility to be either durable or limited. Because this is a powerful document, you should get legal advice before using it.

Tax Power of Attorney

A tax power of attorney allows the agent, generally a qualified individual such as an accountant, to prepare and submit tax information to the Department of Revenue on behalf of the principal.

  • The official name of this form is M-2848.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney allows the agent to buy, sell, and handle the necessary paperwork with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles on the principal's behalf.

Download a PDF or Word Template

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