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June 22, 2018

How do you get a Power of Attorney Document?

I run a Notary directory, and people who hire Notaries often have Power of Attorney documents of various descriptions. It is important to understand that not all Power of Attorney documents were created equal and there are legal standards as well as preferences of the document custodians that need to be taken into consideration.

Legal Considerations
Legally, you probably need to consult an Attorney to figure out what rights to grant to another person (grantee) and under what circumstances and what legal language to grant such powers. I cannot assist with this because I am not an Attorney, and even if I were, I would probably not be practicing in your state.

Document Custodian Considerations
Document custodians are another party that you have to please with Powers of Attorney. A document custodian is the party that accepts your document. For example, if you get a POA for a particular bank, they will want a Banking Power of Attorney done their way which often means using their forms and not some form you got at a stationary store that looks equally good to you. The custodian has the right to choose what type of form they want in many instances.

Recording Documents
I am not an Attorney and do not know if/when/how/why Power of Attorney forms are recorded at your county’s county recorder. But, find out if you need to record it in their files ahead of time. There is normally a fee for this and it involves a visit to a government office, standing in line, not knowing what room to go to, etc.

Types of Powers of Attorney.
There are Medical Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney where you can switch powers on an off sometimes, Banking Power of Attorney documents, and Limited Powers of Attorney as well. Living Wills are yet another specialized type of Medical Power of Attorney that deal specifically with what happens if the Grantor becomes incapacitated or is unable to make their own decisions while bedridden, etc.

Drafting of Documents
Normally, it is a good idea to consult with an Attorney before creating a Power of Attorney. Since it is a legal document, you cannot have any old person draft it for you. It should be an Attorney, or someone legally authorized to draft documents which rules out most Notary Public practitioners. Banks normally use their own forms, so ask the bank what form they require. Additionally, there are legal support firms who employ Legal Assistants, Paralegals, and a few who outsource low paying legal work to New Delhi where they do a very good job at a third of the cost. You can ask these types of agencies what they recommend and who is authorized to draft your document. Your best bet however, is an Attorney if you can afford it. Even if the Attorney doesn’t draft the document him/herself, at least he/she is supervising and taking responsibility for it which makes it potentially a lot safer for you to get a quality output.

Notarizing Documents
Any commissioned Notary Public can notarize your document in their state of commission. Please do not expect or ask the Notary to explain or understand any legal document. Non-Attorney Notaries may not give specific interpretations or explanations of documents other than general statements (in certain states) about what the document is generally about with no specifics mentioned. The Notary’s job is simply to check your ID, make sure you signed the document, the journal (required in most states, recommended by us in any state as that is your only written evidence of the notarial transaction), and fill out certificate forms that correspond to your document.

Legal Technical Terms
If you are creating a Power of Attorney, there is a lot of legalese which an Attorney can help you understand. The main terms are:

Grantor — the person giving power to another
Grantee — the person receiving special powers from the document
Agent — another name for the person who receives power and can complete tasks for the Grantor.
Principal — the main person signing the document who is the Grantor by definition.
Attorney in Fact — the most commonly used term for the agent / person receiving power of attorney.
Capacity — If you have special powers or a special position in a company, that can be described as a capacity. Being an Attorney in Fact or AIF is considered a capacity that can be indicated on certain Notary forms.

Signing in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.
There are eight ways that I have seen to sign as an Attorney in Fact. Please be advised that the particular verbiage is very particular and can be decided by an Attorney or document custodian. If they want it one way, and you sign with even one comma out of place, the entire document might be rejected and need to be resigned. Here are some common ways to sign, but ask your contact person before you sign anything, as the verbiage does matter.

John Smith, as Attorney in Fact for Sally Smith
Sally Smith, by John Smith, her Attorney in Fact
John Smith, POA for Sally Smith
John Smith, AIF for Sally Smith

Summary
In some of these variations, the signer signs the name of the other person (which I am not comfortable with) and then describes their capacity. In other variations, you sign your own name, and then indicate your capacity after a comma after your name. As always, I cannot and will not give legal advice, so, ask an Attorney before you have a Power of Attorney drafted, and before you sign the document and before you sign in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.

If you need a Mobile Notary Public, visit the advanced search page of 123notary.com and lookup by zip, city or county and find about 7000 Notaries Public nationwide, many of whom are very knowledgeable and experienced.

Good luck!

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