Do You Need a Notary Public for Massachusetts Power of Attorney?

If you want to prepare a power of attorney in Massachusetts you need to be certain to fulfill all of the legal requirements of preparing such a document. In addition to making certain that you include the correct provisions in a Massachusetts power of attorney---whether for medical or financial purposes---you also need to ensure that the document is properly signed. To that end, a notary public has a necessary role in creating a power of attorney in Massachusetts.

Certificate of Acknowledgment

A Massachusetts power of attorney is legally effective only if the document contains a "certificate of acknowledgment." A certificate of acknowledgement includes a simple statement that the person who signed the power of attorney did so in front of a duly authorized notary public for the state of Massachusetts.

Unlike some other types of legal documents, the power of attorney does not need to be signed on oath. In other words, the person who desires and signs the power of attorney does not swear before the notary public that the contents of the document are true and correct.

Contents of Acknowledgment

Like the power of attorney itself, the notary public's acknowledgement on the document needs to contain specific content. For example, according to Massachusetts law the acknowledgment block used by the notary public needs to include the notary stamp or seal (if the notary is using one). Somewhere within the acknowledgment the date of the expiration of the notary public's authorization also needs to be placed.

Proof of Identity

The fundamental task of a notary public in regard to a power of attorney in Massachusetts is the proper identification of the individual executing the document. Massachusetts law requires that a notary public confirm the identity of an individual before her by examining a government-issued photo identification card. The most obvious form of identification is a Massachusetts driver's license.

Provided that the driver's license reasonably appears to be authentic in the eyes of the notary public, no other identification or confirmation of identity is necessary. No independent witnesses are needed to appear before the notary public in Massachusetts to confirm identity. Moreover, in the absence of an appropriate photo ID, no witness is sufficient to establish identity before a notary public.

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