When someone gives you power of attorney (POA), you’re legally able to sign legal documents on their behalf if necessary. However, signing as power of attorney isn’t as simple as writing down both of your names. For a power of attorney signature to be valid, you must take the proper steps.
Read on to learn how to sign as power of attorney correctly, so you don’t encounter any issues if you need to sign documents on someone’s behalf.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a document that creates a legally binding agreement between two parties — a principal and an attorney-in-fact.
A power of attorney form grants an attorney-in-fact the right to:
- access the principal’s financial accounts
- sign legal documents on the principal’s behalf
- manage the principal’s legal and business affairs
As an attorney-in-fact, you must act in the principal’s best interest, and adhere to their wishes when signing documents for them. This means doing what the principal would want you to do, no matter what.
A durable power of attorney form remains effective if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes.
Related Resource: What is Power of Attorney
If loved ones suspect an agent isn’t acting in the principal’s best interests, they can take steps to override the power of attorney designation.
6 Steps for Signing as Power of Attorney
Acting as someone’s attorney-in-fact can feel a bit complicated. Follow these steps to ensure the process runs smoothly and meets legal requirements:
Step 1: Bring Your Power of Attorney Agreement and ID
When signing as a POA, you need to bring the original power of attorney form to the meeting — even if you’ve already registered a copy of the document with the institution (such as a bank, financial agency, or a government institution).
You also need to bring government-issued photo identification with you. This allows the institution to confirm that you’re the person named in the agreement, and lets them verify the signature on the power of attorney is yours.
Step 2: Determine the Preferred Signature Format
Most agencies or institutions require a specific format when signing under power of attorney. Consider calling ahead to establish what format is preferred — if any.
If there’s no preference, use a standard format such as the one in the power of attorney signature sample below:
Step 3: Sign as the Principal
The proper way to sign as power of attorney is to first write the principal’s signature. This shows that you’re acting on the principal’s behalf, and not your own.
And remember to use the principal’s full legal name. If you see their name listed on any pre-existing paperwork at the institution, be sure to replicate its format.
Step 4: Sign Your Own Name
Sign your name below the principal’s name. Simply add the word “by” in front of your name to indicate you’re signing as POA on the principal’s behalf.
Step 5: Express Your Authority as Attorney-in-Fact
Below your own name is where you make it clear that you have the authority to sign on the principal’s behalf. To indicate that you’ve been given power of attorney for signing authority, write “attorney-in-fact” under your name. Other variations are also acceptable to write out, like POA, or “power of attorney.”
Failing to indicate that you’re signing on the principal’s behalf can invalidate the agreement, and even lead to civil or criminal lawsuits.
Here’s a sample of what a power of attorney signature should look like:
Step 6: File the Documentation Somewhere Safe
The final step is to make sure you file each document you’ve signed as power of attorney in a secure location.
It can be difficult to know how to sign as power of attorney for a loved one, but it can be a simple task if you prepare accordingly.
Be sure to follow any directions you’re given, while maintaining a clear record of the proceedings for future use.
It should be noted that using power of attorney after death of the principal is prohibited by law.