Power of Attorney in Texas: Guide and Requirements
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A power of attorney in Texas is a document that authorizes another person (the “agent” or “attorney in fact”) to take certain actions on your behalf. The creator of the power of attorney is called the “principal.” Texas generally recognizes medical and financial power of attorney authorizations.
Laws and requirements regarding power of attorney details vary from state to state. If you’re considering creating a power of attorney in Texas, here are some important things to know.
What types of POAs are legal in Texas?
Texas generally allows two basic types of power of attorney:
Medical power of attorney: This allows your agent to make medical decisions for you. With a medical power of attorney, your agent can decide your end-of-life care, surgery, medications and other healthcare treatment options.
Statutory (financial) power of attorney: This allows your agent to make financial decisions about your property and money. Depending on the details of your POA, these responsibilities may include things such as selling or renting your property, making bank deposits for you, paying your bills or collecting benefits for you.
Additionally, a power of attorney in Texas may fall into one or more of these subcategories:
Durable power of attorney: This power of attorney remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. (If you don’t make your POA durable, it ends if you become incapacitated.) You can make statutory and medical POAs durable by stating in your document that the POA won’t be affected by any disability or incapacity you might experience. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure the wording is exactly correct and enforceable in Texas.
Springing power of attorney: This only goes into effect if/when you become incapacitated. All springing POAs are durable.
Limited or special power of attorney: This only allows your agent to act in a limited way, such as completing a specific financial transaction for you on a specific day, or paying your bills while you’re out of town.
General power of attorney: This gives your agent a large berth to make a wide range of decisions for you and take a broad range of actions on your behalf.
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Requirements to make a power of attorney in Texas
In order to create a power of attorney in Texas, you need to meet the following requirements:
You must be “of sound mind” and grasp the full meaning of a power of attorney.
You have to be at least 18 years old.
The signatures have to be notarized, meaning they have to be witnessed by a notary public.
If you’re creating a medical power of attorney, either a notary public or two competent adults must witness the document. One of these witnesses must be “disinterested,” meaning they can’t be your agent, a relative by blood or marriage, your health care provider (or an employee of your health care provider) or beneficiary (anyone who will inherit or have a claim on your assets after your death). Some exceptions apply for military POAs and those created out of state.
Consider giving your agent a copy of the POA in case they need it as proof that they’re allowed to act on your behalf.
How to get a power of attorney in Texas
1. Create your official document
You can work with an attorney, use estate planning software or download Texas’ Statutory Durable Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney Designation of Health Care Agent forms to print and fill out yourself. Choose your agent and detail the authority you’d like them to have.
2. Sign your POA with the required notary or witnesses present
For a statutory POA you’ll need to have the document notarized; for a medical POA you can have two witnesses instead, as long as one of them is a “disinterested” party.
3. Safely store the original document
Tell your agent where the original is and give your agent a copy for reference.
4. Provide a copy of your POA to other relevant parties
If your POA involves real estate transactions, for example, you may need to file a copy with your land records office, which in Texas is part of your county clerk’s office. If your agent will conduct financial transactions, you may want to give your banks and other financial institutions a copy as well. For medical POAs, you may want your doctor or other health care providers to have a copy.
5. Review your POA every three to five years
Update it as needed, along with the rest of your important estate planning documents.
What are the power of attorney requirements in my state?
See the requirements for creating a valid power of attorney in these states: