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This content was last updated on 2/13/2024

What is a power of attorney (POA)?

A power of attorney (POA) is a document that gives someone you trust the power to act on your behalf. In Kentucky, the person you allow to step into your shoes is called an agent.  You are called the principal.

What kinds of POAs can you have in Kentucky?
  • A financial POA, which allows someone to handle your financial or business matters;
  • a health care POA, which allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. In Kentucky, this type of POA is combined with a living will, which says what are your wishes for medical treatment.  The combined document is called an advance directive.
Why would I have a financial power of attorney?

With a POA, you (the principal) can name another person (the agent or attorney in fact) to act on your behalf. The agent can sign legal documents when you are unavailable, when you prefer the convenience of having someone else sign, or when the you become incapacitated.

A POA is a very important legal document because it gives your agent the power to act on your behalf. As with any legal document, before you sign a POA, it is best to talk with an attorney.

Do I need a separate POA to make decisions about my health care or end-of-life decisions?

In Kentucky, you need a separate document, called an advance directive, that combines a health care POA and living will into one document.

Can I still make decisions if someone else has my Power of Attorney (POA)?

Yes. When you appoint someone as your power of attorney, you do not sign over or give away any of your decision-making ability. By law, a POA agent cannot overrule your decisions. A POA agent also cannot intentionally go against your wishes. Only a judge has the power to take away your ability to make decisions, usually by a guardianship or conservatorship.

Who can I appoint to be my agent under the POA?

You can name any competent adult (over 18 years old) to be your agent.  Before you pick an agent, you should think about whether that person is trustworthy and where they live in relation to you.

Can I appoint more that one person to be my agent at the same time in the POA?

Yes. You can appoint co-agents who are authorized to act at the same time, but it is better not to so there are not disagreements between your agents.  Naming a "successor" agent—an different person who will become your agent if your first choice is unavailable for any reason—is a good idea because it creates a backup plan.

A POA is a very important legal document because it gives your agent the power to act on your behalf. As with any legal document, before you sign a POA, it is best to talk with an attorney

Do I have to sign the POA in front of a notary?

The best practice is for you to sign your POA in front of a notary. When you sign your POA in front of a notary, your signature is presumed to be genuine—meaning your POA is more ironclad.

After I sign the POA document, when does it become effective?

This power of attorney becomes effective immediately after you sign it unless you say something different in POA document itself. 

After I sign the POA document, what should I do with it?

You should store the original in a safe place and tell someone you trust where you put it. You should also give a copy to the person you named as your agent.

If you gave your agent the power to deal with your real estate, you should also file a copy of your POA in the County Clerk’s office where you own real estate.

How long is a POA good for?

Unless you specify otherwise, generally the agent's authority will continue until you die, until you revoke the power of attorney, until the agent resigns or until the agent is unable to act for you.

In rare cases, a court may declare your POA invalid if it concludes that you were not mentally competent when you signed it, or that you were the victim of fraud or undue influence.

Can I cancel (revoke) my POA?

You can revoke a POA at any time as long as you are mentally competent. The cancellation/revocation must be in writing.

After I cancel (revoke) my POA, what should I do?

You should let your original agent know of your decision. It is best to give him/her a copy of the revocation, but you should keep the original of the revocation.  If your original POA was recorded at the County Clerk’s office, you need to record the revocation there too. Also, you should notify all family members, financial institutions, healthcare facilities and any other institution that may have your old POA document filed to let them know that the POA has been revoked. Give them a copy of the revocation.

What happens if I gave my spouse my POA and then we get divorced?

In Kentucky, if your spouse is named as your agent in your POA, that designation automatically ends once either of you files for divorce.  Your ex-spouse's authority to act as your agent ends, but your POA will still be in effect.  So if you named a successor agent, that person would become your agent.


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