How did it get to be March already? You would think that the weather this winter would have made time stand still, but here we are, finally following up on a promise we made in our September 2014 series about powers of attorney ("Durable, limited, whatever: Power of attorney is a flexible tool). The promise was to go through the changes to Pennsylvania's power of attorney law that took effect on Jan. 1.
The new law covers a lot of territory, so it may take a couple of posts to go through them. Also, some of these went into effect last year. It makes more sense to talk about all of the changes at the same time, though.
Remember that the power of attorney is both the document and the authority granted to another person to manage all or some of your affairs. Some of the changes apply to the document, others to the authority.
Generally, the law prefers that agreements and contracts be in writing. The law is a little stricter for powers of attorney. There must be a document through which the principal grants authority to the agent and which, in turn, is signed by both the principal and the agent. In the past, however, the requirement stopped there.
Under the new law, the document must be witnessed by two people, neither of whom is the agent, and notarized. Even spouses may not be both agents and witnesses. (The same does not hold true when it comes to witnessing a will -- the spouse may be both executor of the estate and a witness to the testator's signature, but that's a different subject.)
A power of attorney must include a notice, and the law lays out both the format and the content of that notice. The law change included amendments to the notice that, of course, reflect changes to the responsibilities of both the agent and the principal. We'll discuss those in our next post.
Source: Legal Intelligencer, "Key Provisions of the New Power of Attorney Law: Act 95," Amy Neifeld Shkedy and Rebecca Rosenberger Smolen, March 6, 2015