Some states require power of attorney to be notarized where by proper notarization of a Power of Attorney (POA) can enhance its validity, although not all states mandate it.
A POA transfers decision-making authority from one person to another, allowing the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the principal. State laws may impose restrictions on the attorney-in-fact’s actions, and the scope of powers can vary. Notarization helps prevent challenges to the POA’s validity, ensuring it remains effective.
This article explores the purposes, legal requirements, and advantages of notarization in POAs.
Why Notarize a POA?
A state-appointed notary public in the U.S. conducts notarization, responsible for verifying the authenticity of signatures on legal documents. Notaries have varying state-specific requirements, and they must avoid conflicts of interest. Their impartial status lends credibility to their verification.
While notarization is legally required for some POAs, it’s a good practice in all states, even if not mandated.
POAs can grant extensive powers, leading to potential legal disputes when interested parties disagree with the agent’s decisions. Challenging an attorney-in-fact typically demands evidence of improper POA creation.
How To Notarize a Power of Attorney
A notary public ensures the authenticity of legal documents by following these steps:
- Confirming the signers’ legal competence.
- Ensuring signers understand the document’s content.
- Verifying the identity of all parties using official documents.
- Overseeing the signing process.
- Recording details in a journal (date, time, etc.).
- Applying their official seal and signature to the document.
Notary services are typically swift, taking only a few minutes.
Notary and Witness Requirements by State
States have varying requirements for signing a POA:
- Two witnesses and a notary are needed in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
- In Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, and more, you can have either two witnesses or a notary.
- States like Alabama, Connecticut, and others mandate at least two witnesses but not a notary.
- Different rules may apply in other states and for specific types of POAs, like medical decision-making. Check your local laws for up-to-date requirements as they may change.
Enforceability of Power of Attorney From Other States
Each state has distinct rules for powers of attorney, so consider updating agreements when moving across state lines. A POA drafted and executed in another state can still be valid.
For added security, notarization is crucial, especially if your new state follows the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA). UPOAA obliges respecting notarized POA terms, allowing legal action against those denying an attorney-in-fact’s authority. Currently, 28 states have adopted UPOAA which include:
- Kentucky, South Dakota, Georgia, Texas, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, Washington, South Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Iowa, West Virginia, Nebraska, Ohio, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico.
, with two more including Washington D.C considering it.
Even if your new state isn’t part of UPOAA, notarization can still be vital. Some states enforce notarized POAs but may apply their laws, potentially invalidating the agreement.
A power of attorney is a crucial aspect of estate planning, used alongside wills and advance directives to safeguard your wishes and assets.
To formalize these documents, notary public services are essential. They provide an added layer of protection through notarial acts, ensuring the documents’ validity and authority, even in states where their presence is not mandatory.