When you want to give a third person control of the sale of your vehicle, you'll need to grant that person a power of attorney. You can draft your own POA document or get a form from your state's department of motor vehicles. While powers of attorney can be wide-ranging documents that give someone complete power over your finances and health care, the document used for a motor vehicle is much more restricted.
Types of Powers of Attorney
Motor vehicle powers of attorney are either general or specific. A general power of attorney allows the holder, or grantee, to perform any duties that the owner legally could perform. A specific power of attorney grants the agent permission to perform only a specific action, like transferring the vehicle's title. This type of power is also time-limited, meaning it will fall away as soon as the vehicle is sold in accordance with your instructions. Some states issue secure powers of attorney that are printed with security features and normally used by dealerships.
Writing a Power of Attorney
Using a template from your department of motor vehicles can ensure it will be valid and accepted by the DMV. Most states, including California, Florida and Ohio, have power of attorney forms available to download from their DMV websites. Whether you write your own or download a POA form, it must be valid in your state. The document should include the vehicle’s make, model, license plate number and vehicle identification number, or VIN. Include the names of the owner, or grantor, and the person being granted the power, called the grantee. Also include both parties' addresses and, in some states, personal identification details like driver's license numbers.
The power of attorney should also specifically state what the document is to be used for, such as selling the vehicle, applying for a certificate of title, or registering or transferring the title.
If you are downloading a form for use, make sure that it is not a "durable" power of attorney. This document contains language that keeps the power alive even after you become mentally incapacitated, that is, until you unable to make your own decisions, which is not really whats is needed here.
Getting the Power of Attorney Notarized
Many states, like Ohio, will not accept a power of attorney for the sale of a motor vehicle unless the document is witnessed and notarized by a notary public. If this is the case in your state, don't sign the power of attorney until you are in front of the notary public. The fee can vary in each state and generally costs from $2 to $20 per signature. This fee is for your signatures, not the notary public's.
Read More: Does a Durable Power of Attorney Need to Be Notarized?
Using a Power of Attorney
The grantee, or agent, using the power granted in the power of attorney must be prepared to present the document. The grantee should write "P.A." next to her signature on any forms and documents that would require the vehicle owner's signature to show that she is acting as an agent of the owner. In some states, like New York, the person who transfers the title certificate and the person who receives the title certificate cannot be the same person.
If you plan on using the POA document for more than one transaction, inform the clerk at the DMV each time you use it. If the power of attorney is going to be used only once, the DMV may keep the original document on file, rather than returning it to you.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has worked as a consultant for many small businesses and non-governmental organizations, including several law firms and bar associations. David has also has written hundreds of articles on legal matters and small business trends for newspapers, magazines and online publications including About.com and American Express.