How to Properly Sign a Power of Attorney Document for Someone

By Beverly Bird

When someone gives you power of attorney, she is entrusting you to act on her behalf. Some powers of attorney don’t go into effect until the principal, the person granting you the power, can no longer act for herself. Others may go into effect as soon as both of you sign the power of attorney document. When you sign documents for someone else in this capacity, it’s important to make it clear that you’re acting for her, not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.

When someone gives you power of attorney, she is entrusting you to act on her behalf. Some powers of attorney don’t go into effect until the principal, the person granting you the power, can no longer act for herself. Others may go into effect as soon as both of you sign the power of attorney document. When you sign documents for someone else in this capacity, it’s important to make it clear that you’re acting for her, not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.

Step 1

Have your power of attorney document with you when you sign anything on the principal’s behalf. The entity or person with whom you’re contracting will probably want proof that the principal has authorized you to act for her. Ideally, the principal has already provided copies to all institutions with whom she expects you to deal, but don't count on this.

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Step 2

Sign the principal’s name first, not your own. This eliminates any confusion that you’re acting in your own interests or assuming any personal liability for what you’re signing. The principal is actually the one engaging in the transaction.

Step 3

Sign your own name after the principal’s name, after including the word “by.” This indicates that the principal is engaging in the transaction through you. For example, you would write, “Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith.”

Step 4

End the signature by indicating that you’re acting under power of attorney. You can do this in one of several ways. After your name, you can write in the words “agent,” “attorney in fact,” “power of attorney” or simply, “POA.” Your final signature should read similar to "Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith, power of attorney."

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How to Use a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

References

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Many estate planning professionals recommend powers of attorney as worthwhile tools to keep the details of your life running smoothly in the event of an emergency. You can use a power of attorney to authorize an agent -- often a loved one or another trusted individual -- to make decisions regarding your medical care or to deal with the financial details of your life should you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney grants your agent immediate authority to handle your personal affairs, such as contracting for debt in your name, as well as authority after your incapacitation. If you decide that you’ve entrusted the wrong individual with these important powers, releasing your power of attorney is a simple matter of revoking it.

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