Power of Attorney in Washington State: How It Works

A power of attorney in Washington gives someone the authority to make medical or financial decisions for you.
Dalia Ramirez
By Dalia Ramirez 
Updated
Edited by Tina Orem

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A power of attorney, or POA, in Washington state is a legal document that gives someone else — called an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” — the authority to make medical or financial decisions for you. In Washington, you’ll need your document signed by a notary public or two witnesses.

Each state has its own POA requirements. Here’s what to know about the POA types in Washington and how to get one.

What are the requirements for a power of attorney in Washington state?

A POA document in Washington must meet the following requirements:

  • You, the “principal” of the arrangement, must be at least 18 years old.

  • You (the principal) must have the mental capacity to understand the terms of the POA.

  • The agent(s) must also be a competent adult.

  • The POA must be signed by either a notary public (or other authorized official) or two competent adult witnesses who aren't the agent, related to the principal or long-term care providers for the principal

    Washington State Legislature. Power of attorney Requirements. Accessed Aug 31, 2023.
    .

  • If you name co-agents, they must act jointly (make all decisions together) unless you specify otherwise in the POA.

Types of POAs in Washington state

These are the main types of POA in Washington:

  • Financial POA: This type allows your agent to manage your financial affairs, which can include banking, lending and paying bills. You can create specific, limited POAs for financial matters such as taxes and vehicle maintenance.

  • Medical POA: Sometimes called a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care (DPAHC), this type gives your agent the power to make decisions about your medical care. A medical POA should be designated as durable; it typically takes effect if you become incapacitated.

  • Minor POA: In Washington, you can give someone the authority to make decisions for your minor child for anywhere from one day to two years. If you need someone to have these powers for longer, you may want to consider guardianship.

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A power of attorney in Washington can also be classified as one of the following types:

  • Durable POA: This type of POA stays effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated. In Washington, POAs aren’t durable by default, so you’ll need to specify that you want your medical or financial POA to be durable with the following words: “This power of attorney shall not be affected by disability of the principal" or "This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability of the principal"

    Washington State Legislature. Power of attorney Termination. Accessed Aug 31, 2023.
    .

  • Springing POA: This type becomes effective when certain conditions are met, such as when the principal becomes incapacitated or leaves the country.

  • General POA: This type gives someone broad authority to make decisions in your best interest and doesn’t limit the agent to specific tasks. In Washington, this is typically for financial POAs.

  • Limited (special) POA: This type gives the agent the authority to take action only in specific categories, such as filing your taxes or paying your bills while you’re traveling. In Washington, you can use a limited POA to assign someone responsibility for a minor child for up to two years.

Steps for getting a POA in Washington state

Here’s how to draft a valid power of attorney in Washington:

  1. Decide which type of POA you need, including whether it should be durable and whether you want your agent to have limited or general authority.

  2. Choose your agent. This should be a competent adult whom you trust. If desired, you can name a successor agent in case your original agent isn’t available.

  3. Fill out the correct POA form with an estate planning attorney, by using online estate planning software, or by downloading a free state-specific form.

  4. Have your form signed by either a notary public or two witnesses.

  5. Keep the original in a safe place and give copies to your agent and any relevant financial institutions or medical providers. In Washington, you can choose to file your POA with the state, though it’s not required.

What are the power of attorney requirements in my state?

See the requirements for creating a valid power of attorney in these states:

Frequently asked questions

The cost of a POA can vary depending on if you hire an attorney, which can cost around $300 on average. You can find free POA forms online, but an attorney may be worth it to help you navigate the specific language for your needs. Notarization costs $10 in Washington, and it costs $98 to register your POA with the state (though this isn’t required).

In Washington, you can grant someone a POA to file your taxes for you. However, the agent will not be held financially liable for mistakes, so make sure your agent is a tax professional or similarly responsible person. If someone has the authority to handle your state taxes, they may need to manage your federal taxes as well.

In Washington, a POA ends if any of these things happen:

  • The principal dies or revokes the POA.

  • The agent dies, becomes incapacitated or resigns.

  • The agent and the principal were married but then get separated or divorced.

  • The principal becomes incapacitated but the POA isn't durable.

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