The Power of Attorney for Real Estate Transactions

By Kristie Lorette
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A power of attorney is described as "a legal document giving one person (called an "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") the power to act for another person (the principal)" by dictionary.com. It is frequently used in the event of a principal's illness or disability, allowing the agent to make medical and other decisions on his behalf. Responsibilities of an agent can be broad or limited, depending on the wording of the form. In the case of real estate transactions, the power of attorney can be quite useful for a buyer or seller that cannot appear in person.

Function

A power of attorney for real estate transactions is a simple legal document that gives another person the authority to buy or sell real estate or conduct other real estate business for an individual. This document will be necessary if the principal is out of town or otherwise unavailable, unable to look after her own real estate for a period, or lives far away from the owned property--requiring someone else to manage it

Transactions

Rights allowed to agents on a real estate power of attorney include: the right to execute, receive; and acknowledge all documents, instruments, warranties, quit claims and deeds necessary to complete conveyance of the property. Contracts, releases, checks, mortgages, statements and warranties all fall under this umbrella. The principal can also grant the agent the power to pay, receive, release or accept any funds in relation to the real estate transaction. The agent may also be allowed to insure the property.

Time Frame

This type of power of attorney may be limited in duration by setting forth beginning and end dates on the form. Alternatively, it can be an open-ended document allowing the agent to act on the principal's behalf until further notice. Once signed, the power of attorney goes into effect immediately unless the document specifies otherwise It remains effective until it is revoked by the principal or ends according to a specified date on the document. A real estate power of attorney can be "durable," which is not affected by the subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal, or "non-durable," which ceases to be effective if the principal is disabled or incompetent.

Register And Notarize

The power of attorney for real estate must be registered with the county clerk's office. This will make the document public record. Upon filing the power of attorney, certified copies are available for a small fee. To change or revoke a power of attorney, a new document is submitted to the county. Any power of attorney for real estate must be notarized because it will be recorded with the transfer documents.

Considerations

Because the principal has given power to another individual to make binding legal and financial decisions, it is imperative that the agent selected be trustworthy. The principal must be absolutely confident that the agent will act in the best interests of the principal, keeping accurate records and avoiding pitfalls. It may be wise to impose certain limitations on the paperwork to protect the principal from undo financial harm.