Albert Erlang

How to Sign Legal Documents as Power of Attorney

How to Sign Legal Documents as Power of Attorney

What is the Use of a POA Form?

A power of attorney is a way of transferring the legal ability to sign documents from one person to another. This need may often become necessary when people become incapacitated or when they are in any other respect unable to sign documents for themselves.

A “power of attorney in fact” ensures that only specifically designated individuals can take care of financial papers or other important matters if it becomes necessary. Using a power of attorney to sign papers on someone else’s behalf is a serious responsibility with serious ramifications.

You should ensure that you understand what the individual wants you to handle before he or she hands over power to sign on their interests.

Reasons You Might Need A Power of Attorney

Individuals commonly require the legal power of attorney to sign documents on another person’s behalf for a number of reasons.

  • You may need to sign documents for an incapacitated spouse regarding property matters. Some institutions may not deal with a spouse on legal matters unless he or she has a power of attorney.

  • You may have an aging parent that requires you to take over their financial affairs because of physical disability or mental incapacity

  • You may be asked to take care of the financial affairs of a family member or close friend that must be out of the country for a period of time.

  • Individuals may wish to avoid the possibility of a court appointing a guardian to manage their affairs in unexpected circumstances in which they are incapacitated.

Acquiring A Power of Attorney

Each state has its own rules regarding the transfer of power of attorney to another individual. A number of sites provide appropriate legal forms for your state that you can download for use.

Generally, a simple power of attorney form must be filled out, notarized and signed by one or two witnesses in order to comply with the laws.

Other requirements may also be necessary, depending on the statutes in your state. Power of attorney forms should always be stored in a safe place so you can access them easily when necessary.

Signing Documents With A Power of Attorney

In most cases, you will be required to provide a copy of the power of attorney to the institution to ensure that the correct legal procedures have been followed. You may wish to keep a number of copies of the Power of Attorney document on hand so that you can provide it, as needed, in various circumstances.

You can then sign the document on behalf of the person for which you have been designated the legal agent in complete compliance with the law. You can only sign documents for which the individual has approved you to sign. Any violation of the understanding between the two individuals is illegal and may be cause for criminal prosecution.

Having the power of attorney to sign documents for another individual is a serious responsibility that should be undertaken with appropriate care. The power of attorney should only be given to someone who has the complete trust of the individual.

This article originally appeared on the LegalNotes blog.