How To Sign as a Power of Attorney

Updated July 26, 2023
8 min read
How To Sign as a Power of Attorney

Introduction

For a variety of reasons, individuals may find themselves in a situation where they delegate their decision-making powers to another trusted person through a power of attorney (POA). This legal document effectively empowers the designated "agent" or "attorney-in-fact" to make crucial decisions, whether financial, legal, or health-related, on behalf of the "principal." This role often requires the agent to step in and act in the principal's stead, signing as POA to ensure such decisions are legally binding. 

However, many people do not know how to sign legal documents such as POAs. In navigating this complex responsibility, the power of attorney template can be an essential tool in laying out the framework of the document.

Power of Attorney Types

Understanding how to sign as a power of attorney is fundamental as it defines the extent of your authority as an agent. There are several types of POA, each with its unique implications when signing as power of attorney:

  • General power of attorney: When signing as power of attorney under a general power of attorney, the agent is granted broad powers to act on behalf of the principal. This authority can encompass managing financial and business transactions, purchasing life insurance, settling claims, employing professional help, and more. 

  • Special power of attorney: In the case of a special power of attorney, the scope is limited and specific. The agent's powers are clearly outlined by the principal, allowing only certain actions, such as selling a specific property, managing a distinct business transaction, or making particular health care decisions, when signing as power of attorney.

  • Durable power of attorney: Durable power of attorney is unique in that it remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. When signing as power of attorney in this circumstance, it becomes critical in those situations where the principal cannot make decisions due to mental or physical illness. 

  • Medical power of attorney: Signing as power of attorney under a medical power of attorney grants the agent the power to make health-related decisions on behalf of the principal when they are unable to do so. This is a specific type of durable power of attorney 
    exclusive to healthcare decisions. 

Each type has its particular use and implications when signing a power of attorney. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice on how to sign as attorney in fact to ensure the document suits the principal's needs accurately and legally.

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Who Can Sign as a POA Agent?

​​The person who can sign as POA agent is typically an individual who has been designated and authorized by the principal to act on their behalf. The principal holds the authority to choose their agent, and it is crucial that the agent is someone they trust implicitly to make important decisions and handle legal and financial matters in their stead.

The chosen agent can be a family member, a close friend, an attorney, or any other trustworthy individual who is willing and capable of taking on this responsibility. However, it is important to note that some jurisdictions might have specific requirements or restrictions on who can serve as a power of attorney agent, so it is advisable to consult the relevant laws and regulations in the applicable jurisdiction.

Steps for Signing as Power of Attorney

When it comes to signing any legal papers, understanding the protocol of how to sign documents with power of attorney is essential. The agent's power to make decisions, per the principal's instructions, should be transparent and legally sound. Misrepresenting this can lead to invalid agreements or even legal trouble, such as lawsuits or accusations of fraud.

These steps can guide you through the often tricky process of signing as power of attorney. To ensure you follow all of them correctly, use a sample of how to sign as power of attorney:

Step 1: Bring the POA and ID

The first step to learning how to sign documents as power of attorney is being prepared with the necessary documentation. This means bringing the POA document itself and your ID for verification. It's essential that you can prove you are indeed the individual appointed as the agent in the power of attorney document. This step allows institutions to verify that you are legally authorized to sign as power of attorney for the principal's decisions.

Step 2: Format correctly

When learning how to sign as a POA, remember that formatting is vital. Each establishment can have a preferred format, and these are a few examples that are frequently used:

\[Principal’s name] by [Attorney-in-fact’s name] Power of attorney

\[Attorney-in-fact’s name], Attorney-in-fact for [Principal’s name]

\[Principal’s name] by [Attorney-in-fact’s name] as Attorney-in-fact

\[Attorney-in-fact’s name], POA for [Principal’s name]

Step 3: Signing as power of attorney

Once you have the format down, focus on how to sign POA. Depending on the agreement to be signed and the preferred format, it might look like this: 

  1. Sign the principal’s name on the signature line, ensuring it matches the name registered with the institution in question. 

  2. Sign the attorney-in-fact’s name underneath the principal's, prefacing it with "by."

  3. Conclude with "Power of Attorney" to assert the legal authority underpinning the document.

Duties of an Attorney-in-Fact

An attorney-in-fact should always act within the boundaries set by the POA and in the best interests of the principal. It's crucial to avoid overstepping the document's limitations or misusing the granted power. 

If the POA needs to be used for a complex transaction that may result in a conflict of interest or benefit the agent, the guidance of a probate litigation lawyer is highly recommended. It's important to remember that the POA is rendered void upon the principal's death. Any attempts to continue using it posthumously could result in legal penalties.

Conclusion

Learning how to sign a document as power of attorney is a significant responsibility that must be taken seriously. With the correct understanding of the scope of your authority and the principal's best interests at heart, this task can be carried out smoothly. Make sure to follow the steps to sign as an attorney-in-fact to avoid any legal complications.

Article by
Inna Chumachenko
Lawrina

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at i.chumachenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct way to sign as a power of attorney?

The correct way to sign as power of attorney may vary according to the institution you're dealing with. However, a common format is \[Principal’s name] by \[Attorney-in-fact’s name] Power of Attorney. Do check the specific format required by your institution. 

What are the legal implications of signing as a power of attorney?

Signing as power of attorney means that you're taking responsibility for executing transactions, decisions, and agreements on behalf of the principal. Misrepresentation or misuse of this authority could lead to legal disputes or even result in criminal or civil lawsuits.

Are there limitations to a power of attorney?

Yes, the power of attorney cannot extend beyond the boundaries set in the document itself, nor can it continue to be valid after the principal’s death. Against any legal difficulties, the presence of a probate litigation lawyer can provide legal protection. 

Can an agent benefit from actions undertaken as power of attorney?

While an agent may technically benefit from transactions executed while signing as power of attorney, this can raise ethical and legal questions. It's advised to consult legal counsel in such circumstances. For more legal documents, consider browsing other business-related templates provided by Lawrina.

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