How to notarize Power of Attorney?

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Power of attorney (POA) forms are powerful and important legal documents that help individuals ensure their medical and financial wishes will be carried out in the event of an emergency. 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic helped encourage a rise in estate planning, many individuals have yet to begin the process and are unaware of where to begin, or how to notarize power of attorney documents. 

In this guide, we take a look at everything you need to know about POA directives, how they work, and why you should have one notarized (regardless of if your state requires it) to ensure it is valid and legally enforceable.

We will also take a look at how Remote Online Notarization (RON) with PandaDoc Notary has made it more simple, easy, and cost-effective to get a document notarized than ever before.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Power of Attorney?
  2. Types of Power of Attorney 
  3. Who needs Power of Attorney?  
  4. Why notarize a Power of Attorney? 
  5. How to notarize a Power of Attorney?
  6. Where can you get Power of Attorney notarized?
  7. Guide for using PandaDoc Notary with your Power of Attorney form
  8. Final thoughts
  9. FAQs

What is Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants an individual or organization the authority to make decisions and act as an agent on behalf of another person (also known as a principal).

Though power of attorney documents usually pertain to financial affairs or medical decisions, they can include other decisions depending on the situation.

POAs are usually included within an individual’s estate plan and are used in a situation where the principal becomes incapacitated, or otherwise unable to make decisions on their own behalf. 

Since a Power of Attorney is a legal document, they must be notarized to be considered valid and binding. 

The scope of decision making authority granted by the POA depends on which type of attorney form is implemented. 

Types of Power of Attorney

There are 5 types of Power of Attorney documents and each one serves a different purpose in addition to granting varying levels of authority to the POA agent. 

  1. Durable Power of Attorney: A durable POA is one of the most commonly used documents, especially when it comes to estate planning. Durable Power of Attorney allows your agent to continue to act on your behalf in a scenario when you become incapacitated, or otherwise unable to make your own decisions.

    Typically durable POA ends when the principal dies.
  2. Medical Power of Attorney: A medical POA (aka ‘advance directive’) allows a principal to name an agent who will make healthcare decisions on their behalf.  This can include decisions regarding treatment, surgery, organ donation, control of medical records, and more.

    A medical POA also ensures your healthcare providers follow any medical care wishes stipulated in a living will or Do Not Resuscitate form.
  3. General Power of Attorney: A general POA document allows an agent to broadly make decisions on behalf of the principal with regard to financial, legal, business, real estate, and business decisions. Due to the broad authority this allows an agent, general Power of Attorney documents are usually arranged to be short-term, valid for a specified period of time.

    Unless it is explicitly stipulated as a durable Power of Attorney, general POAs expire when the principal becomes incapacitated or has died.
  4. Limited (special) Power of Attorney: Opposite of general Power of Attorney, limited POA allows an agent to act on behalf of a principal, but only in certain stipulated situations. Limited POA’s don’t allow agents broad authority to make decisions beyond what is explicitly stated in the document.

    A limited POA expires once the specific task it documents has been fulfilled or completed.
  5. Springing Power of Attorney: Springing power of attorney documents (also known as “conditional” POA) are created to go into effect in the instance of a predetermined event such as medical incapacitation or a military deployment.

    Springing POAs can be implemented for a variety of situations and depend on the individual’s needs or expected situation. 

Who needs Power of Attorney?

While it can be uncomfortable to think about the reasons one may need a POA, it is a crucial part of estate planning that everyone should consider arranging. 

Today, roughly 32% of Americans have a will or living trust in place, which is way down from 2005, when over 50% of Americans reportedly had one. That means that nearly two thirds of individuals don’t have a plan in place in the event of an emergency. 

Organizing a will and your Power of Attorney documents allows you to have the peace of mind knowing that your family and affairs will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes, should anything happen that prevents you from making such decisions.  

Ultimately, notarized POA documents can relieve a lot of stress and anxiety in times of crisis. They prove that a little bit of planning can really go a long way, especially when it comes to making sure your loved ones and possessions are taken care of. 

Other circumstances when a POA is a good idea  

Aside from general estate planning, setting up Power of Attorney directives is a great idea for anyone who engages in the following activities, in case of emergency.

  • Anyone who travels frequently.
  • Individuals who serve in the military.
  • You have a high-risk or dangerous job.
  • You engage in dangerous or risky hobbies regularly. 

Why notarize a Power of Attorney?

While some states require power of attorney documents to be notarized to be considered valid, a handful of others do not. Regardless, it is always smarter and safer to get your POA forms notarized, regardless of the requirement status of the state you live in. 

Similar to an affidavit, Power of Attorney documents contain vital information that is being conveyed by the principal regarding their wishes. In order to avoid any potential for confusion, conflict of interest, or dispute down the road, notarizing your power of attorney forms helps ensure your directives are legally binding. 

Ultimately, having a neutral, third-party notary witness and notarize your document signing helps to keep things simple in the long-run. 

How to notarize a Power of Attorney?

Each state has its own set of laws and requirements when it comes to making sure your power of attorney is legally binding and enforceable. In some states, a POA must be signed, witnessed, and notarized before a commissioned notary public.

Regardless of if your state requires it, it is a good idea to notarize all Power of Attorney documents. The following steps walk you through how to notarize a Power of Attorney document.

Step 1: Draft your document 

Enlist an attorney to draft a power of attorney document for you. Make sure they are fully aware of all relevant details with your case so that they can create the right type of POA document. 

While there are freely available templates you can access online, having an attorney draft this document is a good idea because it ensures you have all of the correct information, including the POA duration and terms. 

Step 2: Locate a notary public 

It is best practice to have a commissioned notary public witness and notarize your POA, regardless of if your state requires it. 

You can use traditional notary services such as mobile or walk-in notary, however Remote Online Notarization (RON) provides a convenient, fast, and cost effective solution that allows you to notarize from wherever you happen to be. 

You will need to pay the appropriate notary fee to have them complete your transaction.

Step 3: Affirm that the principal has presented the form voluntarily 

At the time of signing, the principal will need to confirm that they understand the contents of the document, and are signing it of their own free will. Unless this acknowledgment has been made the POA cannot be considered valid.

Step 3: Sign the document and record the notarization

Next, the principal will sign the document, along with witnesses. The notary will then apply their signature and seal, certifying the document and immediately rendering it legally binding. While laws vary by-state, the notary will track the notarial act in their journal as a record of the transaction.

How to assign Power of Attorney?

When you are deciding on who you will assign as your Power of Attorney agent, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind. This guide should help provide some guidance to help you determine the best agent to serve as your Power of Attorney. 

Step 1: Understand your needs and choose your agent 

Before you can decide on the person who will serve as the agent for your Power of Attorney, you need to have a clear understanding of your needs and desires.

It may be best to speak with an attorney, medical professional, or financial advisor who can help review your case in detail to make sure that you have considered all relevant factors.

You will want to choose an individual who you trust to best handle intimate details of your life in accordance with your wishes. This is no time to just go ahead and choose any person you can think of. You are giving this person some degree of authority over your life or assets and should treat the decision accordingly.

Step 2: Choose the type of power of attorney that is best for your situation

There are multiple types of power of attorney privileges that you can assign to an individual. Each type of POA permits a different level of authority and scope of duties, so it is crucial to know which type will be best in your situation.

This is yet another reason why consulting an attorney is a good idea.

Step 3: Create or fill out a power of attorney form

Once you have determined who will serve as your power of attorney agent and which kind of contract is best for you, it is time to create the form that will be signed and notarized. Many websites, such as the American Bar Association, offer state-specific POA form templates that make it easy to get started.

The power of attorney forms will need to include crucial information, including the principal and agent’s names, the tasks to be accomplished by the agent, and any powers granted to the agent.

Step 4: Sign and notarize your POA

It is always a good idea to have your power of attorney form witnessed and notarized by a commissioned notary public, regardless of if your state requires it. This will help ensure your document complies with all applicable state laws for it to be considered legally binding. 

Remote Online Notarization (RON) provides a faster, more convenient, and more secure solution than traditional notarization services. It also allows you to notarize essential documents like power of attorney forms from wherever you’re with ease. 

You will need to pay the appropriate notary fee to have them complete your transaction.

Where can you get Power of Attorney notarized?

With traditional notarization options such as walk-in and mobile notaries, you are usually required to schedule a time in advance to meet with a notary in-person. In other instances, you can try to show up at a business that provides notarization services, hopefully while they have someone on staff who can help you at that time. 

Businesses that offer legal, financial, loan/ title, or shipping usually provide certain in-house notarization solutions as an extension of their services. 

These can include businesses such as:

  • Banks
  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Tax preparation services
  • Shipping stores, such as UPS
  • Accountant offices

While these options can offer a solution if you need notarization fast, they are often costly and depend on the availability of these businesses to provide you with notarization services.

Rather than being forced to schedule out a meeting days, or even weeks, in-advance with a walk-in or mobile notary service, Remote Online Notarization (RON) has made it easy and fast to securely send documents to be eSigned and notarized at your own convenience.

Guide for using PandaDoc Notary with your Power of Attorney form

Remote Online notarization (RON) makes it easy to prepare and notarize Power of Attorney forms all in one place and in accordance with all local state laws and requirements. 

The all-in-one platform saves you time and effort when it comes to document preparation. To learn more about how simple notarizing POA documents with PandaDoc Notary is, read on.

Step 1: Preparing your online notarization session

  1. In addition to document creation and notarization, PandaDoc Notary allows you to prepare quotes, proposals, contracts, and more from state-approved templates. This not only helps to ensure the overall validity of your document, it removes a lot of guesswork and uncertainty from the process.

Step 2: Invite and verify your signers

  1. Once the document is drafted or uploaded, you will need to send it to all witnessing parties who will be signing the document (prior to notarization) so that they can review its content and request changes if need-be.

    The PandaDoc Notary platform allows you to make any edits to your document quickly and easily, before or live, during a notarization session.
  1. Once your power of attorney document is ready to be signed, you will connect with your signers and an online notary via a secure, two-way audio-visual internet connection. The notary and signers must all be present for the signing at the same time in order to carry out the notarization.
  2. After logging into the session, all  of  the signer’s identities are verified using a Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) system. This is a security feature that matches a person’s proof-of-identity with private information from official sources, such as statements from a financial institution.

    In addition to KBA, PandaDoc Notary then performs an in-depth analysis of the signer’s ID and documents to help further prevent fraud. 

Step 3: Completing the signing process

  1. Once a POA has been reviewed by all parties, the signers can apply their secure eSignature to the document before the online notary.
  2. Finally, the notary can apply the eSignature and seal, completing the notarization of your POA within minutes. 

Final thoughts

While it can be unpleasant to imagine a situation where you are not able to make decisions on your own behalf, having a plan in place (just in case) can make all the difference in the world. 

When setting up a living will and trust, everyone should consider how they would potentially like their decisions to be made, and by whom, and establish Power of Attorney accordingly. 

We hope this guide has provided you with a better idea why notarized Power of Attorney documents are important to have in place when it comes to planning your estate, as well as how you can start notarizing your POAs online with PandaDoc Notary.

PandaDoc Notary provides an easy-to-use and secure Remote Online Notarization platform that helps you create, edit, eSign, and notarize important estate planning documents at your convenience, from wherever you’re at.

PandaDoc Notary’s intuitive all-in-one platform provides powerful features that allow you to notarize POA documents, thereby giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your possessions and loved ones will be taken care of in the event of an emergency.

To learn more about how PandaDoc Notary can help you, request a free demo.

FAQ’s

How much will it cost to notarize a power of attorney?

Power of attorney notarization can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $10.

Notarization fees for power of attorney documents will vary by state and notary, however each state has a set limit on how much can be charged per notarial act. 

Can you revoke Power of Attorney?

Yes, you can revoke Power of Attorney at any time with a Revocation of Power of Attorney form. You must simply submit a signed statement that you are revoking the POA. It is a good idea to notarize the document you create, revoking the power to ensure it is valid and legally enforceable. 

Can you avoid Power of Attorney abuse?

Unfortunately abuse of power of attorney’s authority does happen and it can interfere with the carrying out of your wishes. These situations can arise even when you entrust a close friend or family member with your POA.

For this reason, it is recommended that you assign two agents with POA authority in order to ensure that the power is not being abused, and is being carried out in accordance with your wishes. 

Can a notary notarize a power of attorney?

Yes, a notary can notarize a power of attorney. Though POAs are not required to be notarized in all 50 states, it is a good idea to do so regardless. Notarizing POA documents ensures that your documents are legally binding and will be carried out as directed. 

Who can witness a power of attorney?

Power of Attorney documents must be witnessed in order to be valid. Your best bet is to have the document witnessed by a lawyer who is familiar with your case. 

If you do not have a lawyer, you can have the POA witnessed by two adults who are at least 18 years of age, and of sound mind. 
Power of Attorney documents cannot be witnessed by the agent who is being appointed, family members, or by yourself due to the potential for conflict of interest.

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