With a notarized power of attorney document, you can be given the authority to sign any and all important legal documents for someone else, called your "principal." You will be known as the "attorney-in-fact" whenever you act on behalf of your principal. Although there is no specific rule on how you are to properly sign documents for your principal, there are several steps you can take to ensure you sign the document’s “signature block” in such a manner that your signature accomplishes your principal's purposes and you do not incur personal liability.
Review the document you will be signing on behalf of your principal and verify that it conforms with your principal's intention and instructions to you regarding the transaction.
Determine whether the document will have to be approved, filed or recorded with a governmental agency, and inquire with that agency regarding its requirements for signing the document as a power of attorney for someone else. For example, if the document is a grant deed to be recorded in a specific county, contact the county recorder's office to determine its requirements for power of attorney signature blocks.
Determine whether the document will be used in connection with approval for insurance, such as issuance of a title insurance policy as part of a real estate transaction. An insurance company will often have specific requirements for a power of attorney signature block, which may even vary from state to state where the company does business.
Provide the original power of attorney to the other party to transaction for inspection so that he can verify your authority to act on behalf of the principal. Also, have a copy that you can give to the other party in case he wants to have his legal counsel verify the documents validity. This will typically occur when dealing with a bank or other financial institution.
- Regardless of the form of the signature block, always include the designation "attorney-in-fact" after your signature and include the name of your principal near where you sign the document. If you sign your name without this designation and principal's name, you can be held responsible for the document you signed as if you were acting only for yourself.
- Some states permit the other party to the transaction to insist that you sign an affidavit that provides assurance to the other party that the power of attorney has not been revoked and that the principal is still living. (Death of the principal terminates the power of attorney.)
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