The most important thing to know about executing a power of attorney is that execution requirements are different from state to state. Like the laws applicable to probate, inheritance, living wills, and similar estate planning matters, the principal-agent relationship is governed by
state law. If you are relying on online sources to determine how to execute a power of attorney form, make sure you are using a source specific to your state.
Other Requirements for Durable POA's
Some states place additional requirements on POA documents intended to remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent, so called durable powers of attorney. For an overview of how a power of attorney is used in estate planning, see our page on Financial Decisions and your estate plan.If you are making a durable power of attorney, you may be required to have your POA document recorded at some point. Your state may not require the document to be recorded until you become incapacitated or until the powers become effective. However, you can typically record it immediately after it is executed if you choose.This type of requirement often applies in the case of real property. The durable power of attorney may be required to be recorded in the county where such property is located. Consult a lawyer for guidance on whether you should record your power of attorney. Go to finding an attorney.
Proper Execution of Estate Plan Documents
You will probably spend a considerable amount of time and money to make a power of attorney. However, if you fail to comply with all execution requirements to make the document valid, your power of attorney will not be enforced. If your power of attorney is not properly executed, a bank, financial institution or other third party may refuse to allow your agent to take actions on your behalf. See fatal errors in execution.
Requirements for Executing a Power of Attorney Form
The following is a list of general requirements for executing a power of attorney form. However, because the laws regarding estate planning documents vary by state, verify the applicable requirements for POA forms in your state. General execution requirements include:1. Always have your POA document notarized. Do not sign the document until you are in the notary's presence. In addition to signing the document, insert your initials in any areas indicated.2. In some states, you are required to have the power of attorney signed by witnesses. The number of witnesses varies by state. If your state requires a POA to be witnessed, there should be signature lines for witnesses on the form. Fill in the full legal name of each witness. Do not use your heirs, relatives or spouse as witnesses. Most people sign their power of attorney form at a law office, bank or similar place of business where suitable witnesses are available.3. In some states, your agent is required to sign the power of attorney form or an acknowledgment attached thereto indicating the agent's acceptance of the role. If this is required in your state, arrange for the agent to be present when you plan to execute the document. Before you do this, read
Granting Power of Attorney.
POA Execution Requirements in Your State
Execution requirements are typically set forth in state statutes. Refer to the sections of your state code applicable to estates for information on financial power of attorney execution requirements.If you retain a lawyer to draft your estate planning documents, your lawyer should arrange a time to have you sign the power of attorney in the presence of a notary and any required witnesses. If you are preparing your own POA using estate planning software or a form you purchased online, follow all instructions provided when executing the form.For more steps involved in making a financial POA, refer to our free power of attorney checklist.Copyright 2020 Pennyborn.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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