How to Transfer a Title With a Power of Attorney

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If you want to transfer your vehicle or property title using an agent acting under authority of a power of attorney (POA), obtain a POA form. Fill it out, naming your agent and signing the POA as required in your state, and then let your agent do the rest. The rules and requirements for a POA are different in every state, so consult an attorney or notary in the property's jurisdiction to be certain.

Power of Attorney for Car Title Transfer

A power of attorney lets you name someone to act on your behalf. The terms of the POA can be as narrow or as broad as you like. You can make it general, giving someone authority to handle all of your finances for the rest of your life, or narrow, giving someone authority to do one thing, like transfer an automobile title.

Generally, a POA to transfer a vehicle is a one-page document, and many POA forms are available online and in office supply stores. If you are interested in using the POA for a vehicle transfer, check at your local DMV office. Many offer a power of attorney form specifically for car title transfer.

Filling Out a Car Title Power of Attorney

To fill out the power of attorney form for a car title transfer, you insert the name, address and phone number of the person you are appointing, often referred to as your "attorney-in-fact." Make sure that their name on the POA matches their identification. In a DMV form, there will also be a section for you to set out the motor vehicle's make, year, license number and other identifying information. Then you must sign the document under penalty of perjury and, if required by law, before a notary.

If you are working from a general POA form, you should add language that limits the person's authority to the vehicle transfer only, such as "limited to completing all necessary documents, as needed, to transfer ownership of the vehicle described in this document." You should also include your own address and contact information. Make sure your name on the POA exactly matches the name on the car title.

Transferring Title by POA

With the POA, your attorney-in-fact has authority to act on your behalf to transfer your vehicle. She needs the certificate of title for the vehicle. She signs as your attorney-in-fact to release your interest in the vehicle. Depending on the circumstances and the jurisdiction, she may need to obtain a lien holder's release, a smog certification and a statement of the odometer reading or other documents.

How should the attorney-in-fact sign the certificate of title? If your name is John Jones and her name is Teresa Chin, she should sign in one of the following ways:

  • John Jones, by Teresa Chin under POA 
  • Teresa Chin, attorney-in-fact for John Jones  

She will have to present the original POA to the DMV when making the transfer.

Transferring Property Title by POA

If you want your attorney-in-fact to transfer title to real estate as your agent, prepare a POA form in the same way but identify the property transfer in the POA authority. Then sign the document with witnesses or a notary or both, as required in your state. Take care that the spellings and names used match what was used in the property's title documents as well as on your ID and the agent's ID.

The way you transfer title to real estate is to write a deed. You'll have to think through all of the specifics of the transfer and insert the essential elements of information into the POA. Determine the type of deed you want to use (e.g., general warranty, special warranty or quitclaim) and to whom you wish title transferred. Add these specifics into the authority language of the POA. If you want to retain an interest in the property (as a joint tenant or a tenant in common), insert that information as well. Your agent can seek professional help in transferring title and should tell that professional that the transfer is being done by POA well in advance. The agent will then have time to consult the local rules and confirm that the POA will be accepted, or advise of any changes needed.

The POA gives your attorney-in-fact the authority to sign the deed, as described in the POA, in your name. The attorney-in-fact signs either as your attorney-in-fact or "under POA" for you just as she did in transferring title to an automobile.

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About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.