How do I sign documents if I have power of attorney?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
Vicki in wonderland asked...

I have power of attorney for both health and finances for both of my parents who have dementia and Alzheimer's. I have never been told the legal and correct way of signing forms for them. Do I sign their name to forms? Or do I sign my name with POA after it or something?

Thanks for clearing this up for me.

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.

Your question points up one of those interesting legal conundrums: You go through the hoops to take care of business, then no one quite explains the fine points about how to put your power into place.

There are some legal regulations and some institutional rules about the "proper" form of signature for an agent empowered by a durable power of attorney. But the overriding legal control is that you must make clear that you are one person who is empowered to sign on behalf of another"”as opposed to attempting to forge the signature as wholly your own. The American Bar Association sanctions two ways that an agent can sign. If you are Jane Doe empowered as the agent for Dorothy Doe, for example, you could sign either as: "Dorothy Doe, by Jane Doe under Power of Attorney" or "Jane Doe, attorney-in-fact for Dorothy Doe." Either should pass legal muster for some situations.

In reality, however, you may be up against individuals who either don't know the law or who simply seem to like too make things more difficult than need be, so they may make your life more difficult by challenging your right to sign. To be prepared for this possibility, be sure to have a copy of the documents appointing you power of attorney"”especially when dealing with a particular person of institution for the first time.

Community Answers

Dmcc answered...

This answer still DOES NOT say how to sign!!!!!

Markatrhm answered...

To to sign on behalf of someone who has given you power-of-attorney the signature line of the document must contain: 1. Your written/typed name, 2. Your signature (*), 3. The written/typed name of the person you are acting on behalf of, and 4. A written/typed phase stating that you are acting as attorney-in-fact.

(*) In Wash DC and Maryland it is typical to sign in your hand "//your signature// as attorney-in-fact" rather than just your signature on the signature line.

It is not required that this information be in any specific order, but it is important that it is clear who is acting on whose behalf.

If Mary Smith has given power-of-attorney to John Doe so that John can act on Mary's behalf the following examples apply except in California, Connecticut, Wash DC, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland and Montana (:

//John Doe signature//   
Mary Smith
by John Doe her attorney-in-fact


//John Doe signature//   
John Doe as attorney-in-fact
for Mary Smith

If you are lucky the document was prepared with all of the text typed and all you have to do is sign your name. If not, you still sign your name and then just legibly write the additional information below the signature line.

If you are signing multiple documents for the same transaction you must include all of this information EVERY place you sign on their behalf.

In some states there is a preferred or customary order to format this information in but I am not aware of any that require a particular format for the signature to be legally binding. However, it is important to include all of the necessary information.

I hope this helps.

Donnygo answered...

Your signature with suffix 'Atty'

Cmpyutr answered...

Hey, markatrhm, what about California? Do you have examples for that State?

Markthemule answered...

Do not just add suffix "Atty" - unless you are a real attorney. You have the "Power of Attorney" and that is different.