Current Pennsylvania law requires that a power of attorney be signed and dated by a principal over the age of 18, and this signature witnessed by two adults and a notary public. Neither witness can be the agent named in the POA or the notary.
Power of Attorney Pennsylvania
A power of attorney is a legal document that can be drafted for you by an attorney. The document appoints someone as your agent (also called your "attorney-in-fact") to act for you in certain situations. In order to make a power of attorney in Pennsylvania, you first need to choose an agent and determine the type of authority you wish to confer.
In Pennsylvania, as in most states, the person making the power of attorney (the principal) gets to decide the scope of the authority conferred. It can be a limited grant of authority for a narrow purpose, like selling a house for you in another state. Alternatively, Pennsylvania also recognizes broad grants of authority. These general powers of attorney usually deal with financial or health care areas.
Durable Power of Attorney Pennsylvania
Most powers of attorney are extinguished if the principal becomes incompetent. In Pennsylvania, a "durable" power of attorney continues in full force even if this occurs.
In fact, a Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, also called a Pennsylvania Advance Directive for Health Care, allows your named agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Many consider an advance directive an important part of your estate planning.
Signing a Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania
Until recently, you did not usually need to have your POA signature witnessed or acknowledged by a notary. Witnesses were necessary only if the principal asked someone to sign the POA on his behalf.
However, the legislature made sweeping changes to the laws in 2014. As of January 1, 2015, a power of attorney must be signed and dated by the principal. The signature must be acknowledged before a notary public or other authorized individual and witnessed by two adults. Neither witness can be the agent named in the POA, the notary or other person acknowledging the signature, or someone signing for the principal. A POA that relates to medical care need not be notarized.
Pennsylvania POA Notice and Acknowledgement
Under current law, the principal must sign a document providing him notice about the significance of the POA and suggesting he seek a lawyer's advice. This language now contains a warning to the principal about the possible repercussions of a broad grant of authority. It could permit the agent to give away the principal’s property or alter how the principal’s property is distributed at death.
The agent must also sign a document. It is called an acknowledgment form and in it, the agent accepts the responsibilities he is given under the POA. He agrees to act in good faith and within the scope of the authority granted in the document. The form must contain the language set out in the current statute.
Both the notice and the acknowledgement form must be attached to the power of attorney. Otherwise it is not legal in Pennsylvania.