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Durable, Limited, Whatever: Power of Attorney Is a Flexible Tool p3

We are going back to wrap up our discussion about powers of attorney. In our Sept. 22 post, we were going over the different kinds of powers of attorney. As we have said, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania presumes that every power of attorney is durable, that it will remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated or passes away. In some cases, the presumption can help to avoid problems for the agent. In others, though, it could cause trouble for both principal and agent.

States differ when it comes to documentation and required language for powers of attorney, as well. In Pennsylvania, until Dec. 31, 2014, a valid power of attorney is a document signed and dated by the principal. The principal may also make his or her mark, or someone else may sign on behalf of and at the direction of the principal.

When the principal has made his mark or had someone else sign, there must be two witnesses. Those witnesses, of course, must be 18 years old or older, and the person signing on behalf of the principal cannot also be a witness.

Pennsylvania also requires a power of attorney to include a notice and an acknowledgement by the agent. The specific language for each is provided in the statute.

While it looks straightforward enough, we should all remember that this is a powerful document carrying a great deal of weight. A mistake could cause confusion or even legal trouble for the agent or the principal and could invalidate the document altogether. It may be best to consult with an attorney before putting pen to paper.

Source: National Caregivers Library, "What is a power of attorney?" accessed online Sept. 12, 2014

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