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What is a Michigan Power of Attorney?

A Michigan power of attorney is a legal document that acts as the authorization for a person, referred to 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 Michigan POA is often used for estate planning. However, there are other instances where a POA is a useful tool.

Quick Reference:

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.

MI POA Laws:

A Michigan power of attorney must comply with Michigan’s power of attorney laws, known as MCL Chapter 700. It 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 power of attorney document include:

  • The principal must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The principal must be of sound mind and understand what they are signing.
  • The agent or attorney-in-fact must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The agent must sign an acknowledgement showing that they understand and agree to act as the agent.
  • The principal's signature must either be witnessed by a notary public or by two adult witnesses.

The principal can explain in the body of the POA the exact powers that the agent can and cannot exercise on their behalf. The principal also has the legal right to revoke (terminate) the power of attorney, even if it is durable, as long as they are competent. Additionally, the POA is terminated when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapaciated and the power of attorney is not durable.
  • The POA includes a termination date, time or event, that is fulfilled.

Why Would You Use a Michigan Power of Attorney Form?

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

  • Their age, mental health reasons, or because of an illness. They may want their affairs managed in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone, including those with a terminal illness and those in perfect health, establish the right power of attorney to ensure their affairs are appropriately handled and that their wishes are fulfilled.
  • A person diagnosed with a mental illness may need a different power of attorney than a person diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • A person with minor children may need a different power of attorney than a person without minor children.

Every person’s need for a power of attorney varies. There are several types available. Before you decide to use a power of attorney, seek legal advice and ask about which is best for your needs as well as how to revoke the POA if it becomes necessary. Here are the most common Michigan powers of attorney.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants a single individual to take any action on behalf of the principal, including making financial decisions.

  • If the principal becomes incapacitated or dies, a general POA loses its power.  The principal may also revoke the POA.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Michigan 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 even if the principal becomes incapacitated. The State Bar of Michigan provides free information about Michigan durable power of attorney documents. A principal may revoke a durable power of attorney as long as they are competent.

Limited Power of Attorney

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

In many cases, an agent will have power to make financial decisions, or make medical decisions, but will not have authority to do other things such as handle real estate transactions (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority terminates if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated. It also terminates if the purpose of the document is fulfilled or if the principal revokes it.

Patient Advocate Designation

A patient advocate designation is also known as a healthcare power of attorney and grants power to the agent to make important healthcare decisions on the principal's behalf.

  • However, like other power of attorney documents, for it to retain effectiveness if the principal is incapacitated, it must be durable. However, even durable healthcare power of attorney documents have limitations. They cannot be used to make end-of-life decisions. While the principal is of sound mind, they need to execute an advance directive to record their wishes. The Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program provides an informative PDF regarding advance directives..

Guardian of Minor Power of Attorney

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

  • This form is generally used if the parent must leave the country for a period of time. It is also used if the minor child will temporarily travel or live with another adult.

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 Michigan Department of Treasury on behalf of the principal.

  • In Michigan, the tax power of attorney is referred to as Form 151, Authorized Representative Declaration (Power of Attorney). Revocation must be performed if the principal wants to revoke the agent’s ability to prepare and submit tax information on their behalf according to the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney allows the agent to buy, sell, and handle the necessary paperwork with the Michigan Secretary of State on the principal’s behalf.

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