The credit card company requires the orignal notarized power of attorney document, but I don't want to send it to them; what are my options?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I have durable powers of attorney for both parents. The lawyer gave me one original for each parent. At a local bank, I gave them a photocopy and they were happy. I phoned a credit card company to request a billing address change. They instructed me to fax the PoA, so I did. Then Dad got a form letter saying that they require the original or a notarized certified copy. I'm not going to send them my original and, since they're halfway across the country, I can't just stop in and show it to them. What do I have to do - go back to the lawyer and pay for a stack of these things?

Expert Answer

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.

There is only one original copy of the power of attorney; do not give it up.

While many institutions, such as the friendlier bank you described, are willing to accept straight photocopies as proof of a document, some require you to go through additional hoops"ā€¯sometimes what feels like endless additional hoops. And some even have their own lengthier forms and procedures they will insist that agents must follow. It can feel like the financial equivalent of being made to go fetch the witch's broomstick, especially when you're likely stressed about needing to act as the agent in the first place.

A notarized copy, sometimes called a certified copy and sometimes called a notarized certified copy, is simply a photocopy of an original document that a notary public attests to be a true and accurate copy of the original document.

You should be able to get one easily enough by bringing in the original and several copies of it; the notary would then stamp and sign the copies"ā€¯transforming them into notarized or certified copies. There will be a slight charge for notarizing each document, but it shouldn't amount to much. And you may want to get a few certified copies while you're at it, just to be prepared in case you run into other picky places.

While this process shouldn't be costly for you to do on your own, as mentioned, you may want to call the lawyer's office that issued it, since many commonly provide certified copies of such documents as part of their legal services.