How to sign documents as power of attorney

To sign documents with a power of attorney (POA) authorization, you must express your capacity to act on behalf of the principal — the person issuing a power of attorney — who has entrusted you to apply this legal instrument to make decisions with their best interest in mind.

In your capacity as the fiduciary agent or attorney-in-fact, you also need to choose a legally-binding signature (could be digital solutions) as well as a valid ID for additional verification. 

Let’s dive right in to discuss how to sign documents with a power of attorney.

How to sign documents as power of attorney

Acting as someone’s attorney-in-fact involves more than just dropping by and signing a few pages. Let’s take you through the entire process:

Step 1. Bring the right documents

Before signing any paperwork with a power of attorney, you need to have all the necessary identification.

Understandably, the main item to have in your possession is the power of attorney document.

In some states like Missouri and West Virginia, you’d need to notarize the POA before it can be used. Other states require having two witnesses in addition to a notarization.

So you must first ensure you’ve fulfilled this requirement according to state law.

Other legal documents to have in your folder include a valid ID — preferably your passport or driver’s license. Having it in your back pocket will save you unnecessary stress. 

Why? In high-stakes situations like financial transactions or health care decisions, the administrator representing these institutions — a bank clerk or healthcare worker — might want to verify your identity or confirm that you’ve reached the age of consent (usually 18 years).

In case of contingencies, always make a copy of the power of attorney.

Step 2. Review and sign 

Go through the contents of the contract to ensure it aligns with what you have in your POA. 

If some details in the contract have changed, consider contacting the principal (if possible) to confirm any changes made truly serve their best interest.

This will protect them from unintentionally locking in horrible financial decisions or medical decisions.

You can also contact a law firm to seek legal advice.

Once everything is in alignment, you can go ahead and sign above the signature line.

You could sign a POA in person or online.

If you’re signing an agreement with a government agency, you might have to appear in person.

To sign documents online using a POA, you can use PandaDoc’s online notary tool.

It is legally binding and secure.

You can also access POA templates to simplify the process of creating, editing, and storing them. 

Step 3. Adopt the right signature format

The format for signing your own name and the principal’s name in a POA document differs by industry.

When signing a health care power of attorney (HCPA), you can’t follow the same format as a real estate planning power of attorney form.

For generic purposes, the format for a durable power of attorney document should be as follows:

[Principal’s name]

by [Your name]

Power of attorney

Let’s assume the principal’s name is Jane Doe, and the attorney-in-fact name is Jack Robinson. Other acceptable signature formats include:

[Jane Doe] by [Jack Robinson] Power of attorney

[Jack Robinson], Attorney-in-fact for [Jane Doe]

[Jane Doe] by [Jack Robinson] as Attorney-in-fact

[Jack Robinson], Power of Attorney for [Jane Doe]

Make sure you provide your full legal name when signing the POA.

And that’s all! You’ve signed a document for your principal with your power of attorney.

Types of power of attorney

Power of attorney documents vary based on the function they perform.

Let’s check out common types of POA documents:

General Power of Attorney

As the name suggests, this POA allows the agent all-encompassing control over everything related to the principal’s best interest.

Due to the far-reaching scope of a general POA, choose the best applicable option for the duration period (e.g., managing financial affairs only while the principal is out of the country vs. continuously on the principal’s behalf from a set date forward.)

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

The DPOA stays in effect even if the principal is incapacitated.

The agent’s signature will continue representing the principal’s interest until death or revocation.

Medical Power of Attorney

The principal can use this POA to give a certified agent the authority to sign agreements related to their medical care.

A medical POA usually contains a living will and possibly a DNR (do not resuscitate).

Due to the intimate nature of this POA, the agent is usually a loved one or family member.

Limited Power of Attorney

This type of POA allows you to act in a specific capacity for the principal according to legal requirements.

It could be to contact financial institutions, operate bank accounts, and conduct real estate transactions on behalf of the principal.

Springing Power of Attorney

This conditional POA kicks in when a specific event occurs, e.g., when the principal leaves on deployment abroad.

It is also important to note that the principal can revoke a power of attorney anytime. You can use this PandaDoc template to file for revocation in a few clicks.

You might also want to make the revocation of the notary public for clarity and informational purposes.

Sign documents with a legally binding POA

A power of attorney allows you to sign documents on behalf of the principal.

This means that you, as the agent, have to prove your identity in order to represent them in an official capacity. 

However, if you don’t follow the proper guidelines for acting as someone’s attorney-in-fact, they could revoke your access.

In some cases, you might even end up with a lawsuit. 

Learn more about POA documents and legal requirements from PandaDoc.