Does a Durable Power of Attorney Need to Be Notarized?

By River Braun, J.D.

Does a Durable Power of Attorney Need to Be Notarized?

By River Braun, J.D.

Depending on the state you live in, a durable power of attorney (POA) might need to be notarized, particularly with regard to the type of authority given in the agreement. This type of POA enables you, the principal, to assign an agent to sign legal documents, take specific actions, or make certain decisions on your behalf. This agent, also known as an attorney-in-fact, is simply a person that you trust to act in your stead.

Person stamping document at desk

A durable POA is one that remains in effect even if you become incompetent or otherwise unable to act on your own behalf. If you fail to execute it properly and in accordance with your state's laws, it will be deemed invalid and will be of no use to you.

Powers Granted With a Durable Power of Attorney

The powers granted can be as narrow or as broad as you require. For example, perhaps you are out of the country or in another state but wish to sell your boat. Instead of expending the time and energy to travel back home to oversee the transaction personally, you can use a durable POA to grant your agent the power to sell your boat for you.

Alternatively, you may wish to give broad authority that empowers your agent to pay your bills, buy and sell stock, and enter into contracts. In most states, if you grant a person the power to sell or mortgage a house or other form of real property, you must have the document notarized. In some instances, the POA must also be recorded.

Acknowledging a Durable Power of Attorney

Acknowledging a POA document simply means that someone has verified that you are who you say you are and you signed the document yourself. Some states, such as California, require that two witnesses or a notary acknowledge the document. In Florida, however, it must be signed by two witnessed and notarized.

When obtaining an acknowledgment, you need to pay special care to the wording of the acknowledgment. You may be refused if the wording does not conform to state law requirements.

Execution in Other States

If a durable POA is properly drafted and notarized, most other states will recognize it. A lot of states have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which provides additional protections for notarized POA, including the ability to sue an individual for legal damages for refusing to accept it.

Some states may accept an out-of-state durable POA but interpret and enforce it according to their own state laws. For example, if you are a California resident considering executing the document for use in Nevada, you would want to review Nevada state laws before execution.

When considering a durable POA, the best policy is to check with the laws of the state or states in which you anticipate you may use it. Under many state laws and the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, a notarized document is valid. With this in mind, you may wish to take that extra step, even if it is not required in your state.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.