Signing Documents using a Power of Attorney

Did you know…[1]

If you are appointed as an attorney under a power of attorney instrument, any documents you sign in your capacity as an attorney should be signed with the name of the adult who gave the power of attorney and your name.  We typically recommend the following procedure:

  1. First, sign the name of the adult who appointed you;
  2. Second, write “by” and then sign your own name; and
  3. Third, add the following qualification, “attorney-in-fact” after your signature.

Signing the name of the adult who appointed you rather than your own signature makes it clear that you are signing for the adult as if the adult, not you, was personally signing the document (that is, you are signing as an agent and not assuming any personal liability).

Signing your own name indicates you are not purporting to forge the adult’s signature.

Adding the qualification “attorney-in-fact” (or some will write “power of attorney” or “POA”, if space is limited) confirms that you are acting under a power of attorney instrument for the adult who appointed you. Do not write only the word “attorney” as that may imply that you are acting as an attorney-at-law (i.e., the adult’s lawyer).

So, if daughter Samantha Jean Smith was signing a form on behalf of her mother, Mary Wong, using a power of attorney instrument, the document should be signed as follows:

Mary Jean Wong by Samantha Jean Smith, her attorney-in-fact

________________

MARY JEAN WONG

Or if Samantha wishes to be very clear and has sufficient space on the form:

Mary Jean Wong  by  Samantha Jean Smith  under a power of attorney granted on May 19, 2017 by Mary Jean Wong to Samantha Jean Smith

________________

MARY JEAN WONG

 

[1] This is the first entry in our blog mini-series entitled “Did You Know”, providing practical tips for navigating a variety of wills, estates, and trust micro-issues.