Acting as Power of Attorney (POA) is a big responsibility. Naturally, signing documents is a large part of your role as an agent for the appointing individual (or principal) in your agreement. However, there are important rules you must follow when doing so.

If you’re still yet to complete your POA legal document with the principal, first find out how to get a power of attorney or what types of POA are available. Once done, you can then go ahead and complete the appropriate form.

After you’ve fully signed and notarized (if necessary) your agreement with the principal and when the Power of Attorney comes into effect you’ll be ready to sign as Attorney-in-Fact. You’ll then need to take the following steps to carry out your duties properly.

File the Document with the Appropriate Financial Institutions

As soon as your Power of Attorney form is signed, you or the appointing individual should notify all the necessary financial institutions and government agencies where the principal has assets to inform them of the agreement.

You can file copies with the appropriate branches and offices to ease the process of signing contracts and agreements for the appointing individual in the future. This can be done before the principal is incapacitated or when the POA comes into full effect.

Bring the POA Document Whenever You Need to Sign Something

When you sign as an agent you should always bring the original copy of your Power of Attorney document with you. This may be necessary even if you have filed copies of the agreement with the institution already.

Additionally, you will need to bring ID to prove you are the appointed agent of the principal. This should be a form of government-issued photo ID so that staff can easily identify you.

Check what Signature Format the Bank or Financial Institution Requires

A very important step of signing as a Power of Attorney is to indicate that you are signing on behalf of the principal and not as them. This needs to be done in the area of the contract or transaction papers reserved for the signees. Normally this will be marked with the principal’s name.

Different banks and government offices have distinct ways that this must be reflected when you sign a contract or legal form. Normally the business will indicate its standard preferences for this. This could be using one of the following example formats:

  • [Principal's Name] by [Your Name] acting as Power of Attorney
  • By [Your Name] Attorney-in-Fact for [Principal’s Name]

In all cases, you must always show on the document you are signing that you are acting under the Power of Attorney. Not doing so can risk invalidating a transaction and can carry severe legal penalties.

Sign the Document with The Principal's Name and Your Own Name

Once you’ve established the format for signing the document and if you agree with the document being authorized, you can then sign as you normally would using the principal’s name. After that, you'll need to sign the document yourself with your own name indicating your capacity as Power of Attorney as shown above.

File the POA Document Safely Until it is Needed

Once you’ve completed a transaction or signed a contract for the principal, carefully file the document somewhere safe until it is needed again. If you will be using the POA form frequently make sure it is in an accessible location but out of harm's way.

What to Avoid As Power of Attorney

In performing your fiduciary duties for the principal, you must make sure that you carry out their wishes as agreed and that all documents are signed properly (as indicated above). If you don’t you run the risk of your Power of Attorney being overridden or revoked and other civil and legal penalties.

When acting for the principal you must make sure not to:

  • Exceed your granted authority
  • Fail to keep up with your fiduciary duties properly
  • Ignore the principal’s wishes (where stated)
  • Forget to indicate that you are the Power of Attorney for the principal

When you create your POA it is critical that the right powers are granted the appointing individual’s needs. There are many options available when completing the initial agreement.

At LawDistrict we can help you make the right choices to tailor your document perfectly. Our online form completion tools can take you through each step of the process so that your legal instrument performs the way you need it to.

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