Current Pennsylvania law requires that a power of attorney be signed and dated by a principal over the age of 18, or signed by a mark, before a notary public. The principal can also direct someone else to sign the POA for him, but if he does this, or if he signs by mark, the signature must be witnessed by two adults. Neither the notary, the agent named in the POA or the person signing on behalf of the principal can be one of the two witnesses.
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.
Read More: How to Obtain Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania
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
A power of attorney must be signed and dated by the principal before a notary public. If the principal signs by "mark" instead of signature, such as an X, or if the principal directs someone else to sign, the signature must also be witnessed by two competent adults. Neither witness can be the agent named in the POA, the notary or other person acknowledging the signature, or the person 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.
A power of attorney in Pennsylvania requires the principal to sign the POA before a notary. If the principal signs using a mark, such as an X, or if the principal directs someone else to sign the document for her, two additional witnesses are required.
- Consider consulting a qualified attorney. Pennsylvania's power of attorney laws are very specific, and you should talk to a qualified attorney before you attempt to do it yourself.
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.