Can the Seller Give Power of Attorney at the Closing?

by Anna Assad

    A real estate seller may give another person power of attorney before or during the deal's closing. The power of attorney document allows the person, known as the agent, to act for the seller during the sale. The agent signs papers for the sale, such as the deed, in place of the seller. While a seller giving a power of attorney for a closing isn't unusual, there are some matters to consider.

    Closing

    A seller may give another person a power of attorney for the closing. The seller and agent sign the power of attorney in front of a notary public and file it in the county land records. Filing the power of attorney in the county land records serves as evidence of the agent's legal right to sign for the seller. The seller may have the power of attorney prepared and notarized beforehand so she doesn't have to come to the closing; the agent attends the closing for her and brings the original power of attorney. The original power of attorney is still filed in the county land records, often at the same time as the other documents from the sale, such as the new deed.

    Limits

    A seller may give another person power of attorney to sign real estate documents and perform banking transactions in general. However, she might also choose to allow the agent to handle documents and banking for a specific property sale only. If the seller wants to restrict her agent's powers to one deal only, she must include this limit on the power of attorney. For example, she might add, "Only for the sale of [property address]" after the section giving the agent authority to sign real estate documents on the original power of attorney.

    Considerations

    An improperly made or incomplete power of attorney may delay a home sale closing if the seller isn't there. Without a valid power of attorney, the closing professionals and attorneys involved won't accept sale documents signed by the agent. If the seller named more than one person as agent and stated that either may act alone, either agent can sign documents at closing. However, if the seller specified the agents must act together, both agents have to sign the sale documents.

    Death of Seller

    A power of attorney ends as soon as the giver, or principal, dies. The closing will fall through if seller dies before the agent signs all the closing documents or the documents are filed in the land records. The seller's estate becomes responsible for the property upon the seller's death, and any documents the agent signed must be redone.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images