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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

Power of Attorney (POA) for Parents

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Parents: you can now give someone power of attorney to take care of your children for up to two years. Learn more. #3105EN


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*Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.


Should I use this?

You might need to give someone the power to care for your children temporarily. This might especially be true if you are becoming incarcerated, being deployed by the military, or getting long-term medical treatment, such as at an inpatient substance use program.

You can now give someone power of attorney when you will not be available or able to provide care for any child under the age of 18 for whom you are legally responsible. You can give someone POA for as little as one day to as long as 24 months (2 years).

We explain POA here. There is a sample POA form below. There is also a questionnaire to help you gather your thoughts and to give the person the information they will need to take care of the children.


What is a POA for parents?

Starting June 11, 2020, parents can temporarily give someone else their powers regarding care, custody, and/or property of the parent's child. The parent does this in writing using a new type of Power of Attorney under state law.  


Will the child's school honor this POA?

Schools, doctors, banks, and so on should recognize and honor your POA.  However, it is a good idea to double-check that your child's school, doctor, bank and others will accept this document.

Before 6/11/20, state law allowed a parent to sign a power of attorney allowing another person to make medical decisions only for their child. 


How long does this POA last?

Under state law, this POA can last for up to 2 years from the date you signed it.

After that, you would probably need to sign another POA, or someone might need to seek a more permanent arrangement. This might include a court order of guardianship. Read New Minor Guardianship Law Effective January 1, 2021 to learn more.


I gave someone POA for two years. It now turns out that I don't need it for that long.

You can revoke (take back) the POA at any time before the POA expires (ends). You should do this in writing and give a copy to anyone who has a copy of the POA to make sure everyone knows it is no longer valid. (good).


Who can I appoint as my POA?

You can appoint any adult.


Who signs it?

The child's legal parent or parents must sign it. 


Does it need to be notarized?

It is not required, but it is a good idea to have it notarized.  Check with the school, doctor, bank, and so on to make sure they will accept a POA that has not been notarized.  For some financial matters or federal agencies (such as Social Security), you may need it notarized.

If you do not have it notarized, you must have two witnesses also sign it. The witnesses cannot be related to you. They cannot be your care providers. 


I want to give someone POA of my child. The other parent disagrees that I should do this.

Talk to a lawyer who does family law. If the child's other parent has the right to time with the child, they might be able to argue that they should have custody and that you should not give POA to a non-parent.


The child's other parent has limited or supervised visitation because of their behavior. I don't want my child to live with them full time.

If you can, try to talk to the other parent before you leave or become unavailable to care for your child. Ask them if they will agree with and sign the POA. If they refuse, fill out section 7 of the POA very carefully.


My child's other parent is on the birth certificate but has no contact with me or with the child.

If the other parent is not involved in the child's life, you can do a POA appointing whomever you want in your absence. However, understand that parent could return and try to seek custody of the child. That may mean a court gets involved.


I need this POA to last for more than two years.

You might be able to arrange to have another POA signed before the original one expires. The law does not necessarily allow for that.  

If you do not do this, someone might need to file a court case asking for guardianship of your children. Read New Minor Guardianship Law Effective January 1, 2021 to learn more.

*We have self-help guardianship packets at WashingtonLawHelp.org that can help both parents and the person filing the guardianship case. 


I decided after signing the POA that I do not want that person to take care of my child after all.

You must revoke the POA in writing. You can change your mind and revoke the POA at any time. If you still need someone else to look after the child, you should also execute (draw up and sign) a new one.


Will this POA always be enough for everything my child may need?

Your child's school or doctor might have their own authorization form to allow other people to access your children's records, pick your child up from school, or get care for your child. Ask about those things and fill them out for your child to make sure you have covered everything.


Where should I keep this POA?

Always have a copy of this with you if you can. You should also keep an extra copy in a secure place with your other important documents in case your purse or wallet is lost.

You should also give a copy to the person to whom you give POA.


I am an immigrant. I am trying to do some planning for my children. Do you have additional advice for me?

Yes. Read Family Preparedness Plan.


Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Download Questionnaire and Power of Attorney Form

Download Packet with Instructions and Form

Last Review and Update: Feb 24, 2021