How to Obtain Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania

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A power of attorney is a document in which one person, known as the principal, authorizes another person, known as the attorney-in-fact, to perform legal acts in place of the principal. These acts might include making medical decisions on behalf of the principal, paying the principal's bills, or entering into commercial transactions in the principal's name. You don't have to be an attorney to act as someone's attorney-in-fact. Pennsylvania's power of attorney statutes can be found in Chapter 56 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

Title the document "Power of Attorney."

Name the principal and the attorney-in-fact, and state that the principal is authorizing the attorney-in-fact to perform legal acts on his behalf. Include the addresses of both parties, so that their identities will not be confused with others.

Detail the powers that the principal is granting to the attorney-in-fact. State these powers as precisely as possible, using the services of a lawyer if necessary.

List the expiration date of the power of attorney, if you want it to expire automatically. You may also word it so that it expires upon the occurrence of an event, such as the completion of a particular business transaction.

State whether or not the power of attorney is "durable." It is durable if it continues in force even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated or unable to communicate. Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania law presumes that a power of attorney is durable unless it states that it is not.

Add the exact statutory language found in Section 5601 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The power of attorney will be invalid unless this language is included.

Sign and date the power of attorney, and have the principal do the same, in the presence of two witnesses. Include a statement that the witnesses witnessed the signing, and have them sign the document. Both witnesses must be at least 18, but neither has to be a notary public.

Tips

  • A principal may revoke a power of attorney at any time by notifying his attorney-in-fact, as long as he is mentally competent and able to communicate his intentions.

    The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes include special rules for authorizing an attorney-in-fact to make gifts on behalf of the principal.

    Hospitals and banks sometimes offer standardized power of attorney forms.

Warnings

  • An attorney-in-fact might enter into binding transactions on behalf of the principal even after his authority is revoked, if he deals with a third party who had no reason to know of the revocation.

References

About the Author

David Carnes has been a full-time writer since 1998 and has published two full-length novels. He spends much of his time in various Asian countries and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

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