Where do I need to file for Power of Attorney for it to be considered legal?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
Anniegirl asked...

Does the Power of Attorney document need to be filed with a State government agency, or a County government agency to be considered legal?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The answer depends on what kind of power of attorney you are dealing with, the specific powers it refers to"”and on where you live.

Powers of attorney for healthcare"”those appointing someone to make or supervise medical decisions for another person"”are legal as soon as they are properly filled out, signed, and witnessed.

But in some states, it takes a couple more steps to finalize a power of attorney for finances"”the document that appoints an agent to handle a person's property and finances. Fortunately, those steps aren't hard.

The laws in many states require that this type of power of attorney must be signed in front of a notary before it will be legal. And many experts recommend the notarizing step no matter where a person lives"”as it just lends an air of formality that may make it easier for an agent to deal with banks and other financial institutions.

A handful of states also require that a power of attorney must be signed in front of witnesses"”and if that is the case in your state, it should be clear from looking at the document.

And finally, if a power of attorney for finances empowers a person to deal with another's real estate"”some do, and some do not give this authority"”then most states require that you "register" or "record" it by filing a copy with the local county land records office or deeds office. If you are looking at a power of attorney that allows the agent to buy or sell or rent out real estate, then, it is a good idea to call the local title office to get the specific requirements in your locale If you aren't sure where to call, your city hall should be able to direct you.