How do I begin using a power of attorney?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have power of attorney for both my parents for financial purposes. I have just also had "Determination of Incapacity" statements signed off by their doctor so that I can handle all matters (including a pending sale of their home).

Do I need to take these signed forms and POA to a lawyer to get formalized before taking to any banks/other institutions to allow me to handle their financial matters?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a 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.

Depending on what state you're in and what institutions you need to deal with, you may need to take another step or three to act under the power of attorney. But you shouldn't need to hire a lawyer.

You've already accomplished the most essential task of getting the doctor's certification. Most institutions will act on this authority alone"”although some will require you to fill out a simple inhouse form in addition.

And in some states, you need to get either the power of attorney or a separate document notarized and recorded in the local title office or registrar of deeds before you can sell another person's house as agent. Call the office closest to the real estate to find out the procedures required locally. These steps, too, should involve simple legwork rather than particular legal expertise.

Community Answers

Matt kaufman answered...

In all states, the signatures on the Power of Attorney should be notarized. The place where the Power of Attorney document will be signed is important in determining which state's laws will govern. The document is generally signed in the state in which the Principal resides, so that state's laws will govern the Power of Attorney document and any issues that might arise under it. Depending on the state in which the document is signed, it may be necessary that the document be signed in the presence of witnesses. In addition, some states require that the name of the person who prepared the Power of Attorney document be included in the document in order for the document to be recorded with the appropriate governmental office.

In addition, check out the company Rocket Lawyer ( You can create your own Power of Attorney for free with a seven-day trial. My name is Matt Kaufman and I’m a Senior Product Manager and Assistant General Counsel for the company.