If you are the husband or wife of a service member, you may need a military power of attorney (POA) to enable you to make important decisions or conduct transactions for your spouse. In a military POA, your spouse makes you his or her agent (“attorney in fact), allowing you to act on his or her behalf. In the interest of convenience, federal law permits the creator of a military POA to avoid compliance with certain state law requirements involving POAs.
Military Power of Attorney
“A military power of attorney is any general or special power of attorney that is notarized in accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 1044a or other applicable state or federal law.” 10 U.S.C. § 1044b(b). A military POA can serve the same purpose as any other POA. The principal, or person giving the power, allows an appointed agent to act on his or her behalf. The difference between a military POA and a non-military POA is flexibility in the form, substance, formality and recording of the document; in short, it provides servicemembers more flexibility.
A military POA may give the agent limited or broad powers to act for the principal or narrow, restricted power. For example, the POA may restrict the agent’s power to filing tax returns for a specific year or selling one piece of real estate owned by the principal. On the other hand, the POA may allow the agent to make decisions regarding the principal’s bank accounts, real estate, automobiles and household goods. The POA may also permit the agent to make health care and school-related decisions concerning the principal’s children.
In addition, the principal may create a document for health care that permits the agent to make healthcare decisions for the principal if he or she becomes incapacitated.
Drafting a Military POA
The document should be entitled “Military Power of Attorney” and contain a statement that the military POA is exempt from state law requirements, but will have the same effect as if the document were prepared and executed in accordance with state law. Additionally, the POA must be notarized by someone designated by law to have notarial powers, such as a judge advocate.
State Law Requirements
Federal law requires that all states recognize a military POA, even if it does not meet the state’s normal requirements. If the document satisfies the federal requirements for a military POA, it should be acknowledged in every state.
Contact Lieser Skaff Alexander for your military POA.