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What is a Wisconsin Power of Attorney?

A Wisconsin power of attorney is a legal document that provides the authorization for someone, 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 Wisconsin POA is most often used for estate planning, but there are other instances when it is also a useful form.

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 attorney-in-fact.

WI POA Laws:

A Wisconsin power of attorney must comply with Chapter 244 of Wisconsin’s state laws. These laws specifically outline the parameters of a legally enforceable power of attorney. They ensure that the form, as well as its duties, are protected under the law. Here are some of the state’s power of attorney requirements:

  • The principal must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind when executing a power of attorney.
  • The document must be signed, dated, notarized, and signed by two witnesses.
  • In order for a durable power of attorney to take effect, two physicians must agree to the principal’s incapacity.
  • The principal may file the document with the register in probate to make it public.

The principal has the right to explain the powers the agent can and cannot use on their behalf. The principal has the legal right to revoke (terminate) the power of attorney, even if it is durable, as long as they are competent. Additionally, a POA terminates when:

  • The principal dies.
  • The principal becomes incapacitated and the power of attorney is not durable.
  • The purpose of the POA has been fulfilled.
  • The POA states that it terminates.
  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns and there is no co-agent or successor agent named.
  • The principal and agent are married and they file for divorce or legal separation and the POA does not specifically state that the fiduciary relationship between the parties will remain intact.

Why Would You Use a Wisconsin Power of Attorney Form?

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

  • Their age, mental health concerns, or the diagnosis of an illness. They could want their affairs handled in specific ways. It is generally advised that everyone, including those who are terminally ill and those who are in perfect health, establish the appropriate powers of attorney to have their matters appropriately handled and that their wishes are fulfilled.
  • Someone with a mental illness may need a different power of attorney than someone with a terminal illness.
  • Someone with dependent children may need a different power of attorney than someone without dependent children.

Each person’s need for a power of attorney can vary. There are several types of power of attorney documents available. Before you decide which to use, seek legal advice and ask about which will best meet your needs as well as how to revoke the document should it ever become necessary for you to do so. Here are the most common Wisconsin power of attorney forms.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney grants a single individual to handle the affairs of the principal.

  • However, this document is terminated if the principal becomes incapacitated or if they die. The principal also has the right to revoke the document as long as they are competent.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney, also known as a statutory 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 has the right to revoke the power of attorney as long as they are competent.

Limited (Springing) Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney, also known as a special power of attorney, grants limited power to whatever the principal specifies.

  • In many cases, an agent will have the power of attorney to make decisions related to finances or decisions related to medical care, but will not have the authority to do other things such as sell real estate (depending on what the principal decides). Just like a general power of attorney, the authority expires if the principal dies or becomes incapacitated. It also terminates if the purpose of the power of attorney is fulfilled. This is also referred to as a springing power of attorney because it can "spring" into effect upon specified or discreet circumstances. The exact powers of attorney that are granted will depend upon the special instructions given by the principal.

Medical (Health Care) Power of Attorney

A medical (health care) power of attorney grants power to the agent to make important medical decisions on the principal’s behalf.

  • This POA can be durable or nondurable. If it is nondurable, it expires if the principal is determined to be incompetent or incapacitated. If it is durable, it does not expire if the principal is determined to be incompetent or incapacitated, but it still has its limitations. The agent cannot use this POA to make end-of-life decisions on behalf of the principal.

Minor Child Power of Attorney

A 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. In Wisconsin, this period is limited to one year. Additionally, this form is used if the child is temporarily traveling or living 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.

  • This type of power of attorney is extremely powerful. The principal should seek legal advice before using it.

Tax Power of Attorney

A tax power of attorney, officially known in Wisconsin as Form A-222, which allows the agent who is usually a qualified individual such as an accountant, to prepare and submit tax information to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on behalf of the principal.

Vehicle Power of Attorney

A vehicle power of attorney allows the agent to buy, sell, and handle the necessary paperwork with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on the principal’s behalf.

Download a PDF or Word Template

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