Make it Legal: Power of Attorney
From LawDepot Law Library
- Relevant LawDepot Documents: Power of Attorney
When you’re drafting a document as important as a power of attorney, it’s important to make sure that you do everything required to make it legally binding. This handy checklist will help you ensure that your LawDepot Power of Attorney is legally binding.
Note: The information below applies to the United States only.
Does my power of attorney need to be notarized?
Different jurisdictions have different signing requirements, but if you are giving your attorney-in-fact the power to sell or otherwise dispose of your property, you will probably need to have your document notarized.
Does my power of attorney need to be witnessed?
Signing requirements differ for each jurisdiction, but generally speaking, it is a good idea to have witnesses to the signing of your power of attorney. However, if you are giving your attorney-in-fact the power to sell or otherwise dispose of your property, you should have the document notarized. Also note that many banks and other institutions have their own policies about signing requirements and may not accept a power of attorney that has not been notarized, regardless of its legal sufficiency. To avoid bureaucratic hold-ups, it is best to take your document to a notary public in addition to having it witnessed.
How should I sign my power of attorney document?
In order for your power of attorney to be valid, you must sign it with your usual check signing signature. You should also initial each page of the power of attorney document. The signing and initialing of the pages must occur in the presence of your notary and/or witnesses.
After you have signed and initialed your document, your witnesses and/or notary public must sign on the applicable page as well as initialing each page. This must occur in your presence.
Does it matter where my power of attorney document is signed and witnessed?
There is no problem with having the document signed and witnessed in a different jurisdiction than where it will be used, as long as it will not be used in a foreign nation. However, you should follow the signing requirements (number of witnesses needed; whether or not notarization is required) of the jurisdiction where the document will be used.
If your power of attorney will be used in a foreign nation, you may have to have it “authenticated” or “legalized.” This is a process whereby a government official, such as the Secretary of State, the Foreign Office, or the Office of the Attorney General (or other official, depending on where you live) certifies that the signature of the authority (e.g. notary or solicitor) on your document is authentic and should be accepted in the foreign nation. For more information about document authentication and legalization, contact the consulate/embassy of the foreign country your document will be going to, or one of the following government websites:
- United States: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/
- United Kingdom: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/services-we-deliver/legal-services/
- Canada: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/default.asp (web site is for Ontario - other provinces contact the provincial Office of the Attorney General)
- Australia: http://www.dfat.gov.au/brisbane/index.html
Do I have to file or record my power of attorney with the County Clerk or the Land Titles Office?
If your power of attorney could affect real property (land or other real estate), it will generally have to be filed with the County Clerk or the Land Titles Office (depending on the jurisdiction). In such situations, the document will usually have to be notarized.