What Is a Power of Attorney?

Sep 20, 2021
| BY
Pat Kinsel

Have you been tasked with notarizing a power of attorney (POA)? A POA isn't just any document: it's a powerful one to get notarized as it grants a person or organization the ability to act on your behalf in the event you’re not able to do so.

When a power of attorney is written, it will generally name someone the attorney-in-fact (sometimes referred to as an agent in some states) who will be acting on your behalf. Think of this as someone who is authorized to conduct any business, settle legal matters, or sign any document on behalf of the individual.

When selecting an agent, you enter into a fiduciary agreement with them, meaning they should always act in your best interest. Your agent can be a family member, friend, or attorney. But in any case, when selecting an agent, be sure to choose someone you trust.

Not all POAs are one size fits all. And in good right: a power of attorney can grant an agent some big responsibilities. As an agent, you’ll be able to make financial decisions, settle claims, or even close on a home.

A power of attorney form needs to be notarized to authenticate the identity of the person signing.

Notaries play an important role when executing a power of attorney. A notary public’s job when notarizing a power of attorney is centered around the acknowledgement, which is attached to the POA. The notary must affirm that the principal appeared before the notary of their own free will, that the terms of the POA are intended, and that the signature is that of the principal.

4 Types of Powers of Attorney

Depending on the power of attorney form, you may need to get it notarized in front of a notary public. These forms need to be notarized to verify the identity of the signer and ensure that the signer understands and acknowledges the contents of the form in front of a trusted, third-party (the notary).

Similarly, businesses may execute POAs as part of their business model, as is the case with auto insurers, wealth managers, or construction companies for example.

Whatever the POA case your situation calls for, you’ll need to get familiar with these four common types of power of attorney to ensure you execute the correct one.

  1. General Power of Attorney
  2. Special or Limited Power of Attorney
  3. Durable Power of Attorney
  4. Healthcare or Medical Power of Attorney

In each of these instances, you'll want to consult with your lawyer when selecting your agent to act on your behalf. And it's always a great idea to ask your lawyer to walk you through each step on how to notarize your power of attorney and what to include in each document.

Notarizing a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney needs to be signed in front of a licensed notary public in order to be legally binding. The notary public is a representative of the state government, and their job is to verify the identity of the signer, ensure they are signing under their own free will, and witness the signing.

Notarizing a power of attorney document used to mean locating a local notary in person, going to meet them on their schedule, and then giving them full access to your private affairs. This was a pretty unpleasant experience.

Now, you can notarize a power of attorney online 24/7 from any smartphone or computer. Use Notarize's fast, easy, and fully-legal online notarization service.

Here's how it works:

  1. Download the Notarize app or visit app.notarize.com.
  2. Upload your document(s) and verify your identity. You verify your identity using knowledge-based authentication, which offers you a series of specific questions that only you can answer. Once your ID has been verified, your identity is further validated using a government-issued photo ID.
  3. You are then connected with a commissioned notary public via live audio-video call. The notary public re-confirms your identity visually using the scanned photo ID, and then witnesses as you electronically sign the document. Similar to how a traditional notary operates, the Notarize notary signs and places his or her notarial seal on your document. For greater security, our notary then completes the electronic notarization process using digital tools.
  4. Once complete, you will receive detailed instructions to access your notarized document online and can deliver it or send it electronically to whomever you would like.

The whole process is completed in minutes.

Pat Kinsel

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