How to Properly Sign a
Power of Attorney Document
When someone gives you power of attorney, she is entrusting you to act on her behalf. Some powers of attorney don’t go into effect until the principal, the person granting you the power, can no longer act for herself.
Others may go into effect as soon as both of you sign the power of attorney document. When you sign documents for someone else in this capacity, it’s important to make it clear that you’re acting for her, not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.
Have your power of attorney document with you when you sign anything on the principal’s behalf. The entity or person with whom you’re contracting will probably want proof that the principal has authorized you to act for her. Ideally, the principal has already provided copies to all institutions with whom she expects you to deal, but don't count on this.
Sign the principal’s name first, not your own. This eliminates any confusion that you’re acting in your own interests or assuming any personal liability for what you’re signing. The principal is actually the one engaging in the transaction.Ready to appoint a power of attorney?
Sign your own name after the principal’s name, after including the word “by.” This indicates that the principal is engaging in the transaction through you. For example, you would write, “Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith.”Step 4End the signature by indicating that you’re acting under power of attorney. You can do this in one of several ways. After your name, you can write in the words “agent,” “attorney in fact,” “power of attorney” or simply, “POA.” Your final signature should read similar to "Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith, power of attorney."
Notary Signing Agents often are asked by title companies and signing services to include extra signed and stamped notarial certificates in the completed loan packages they return after an appointment. The reason given is that the company wants extra certificates to rectify any mistake the NSA made in completing a notarial certificate on the mortgage, deed of trust or other notarized document in the loan package without having to send the entire document back for the NSA to correct. That would take precious time that could delay the closing of the transaction.But this is a problem for NSAs. While you instinctively want to follow the instructions your clients give you, this one requires you to violate Notary law.State Laws And Extra Notary Certificates
Many states address the issue of sending pre-signed, pre-stamped certificates, but they do it in different ways.
- Some states, such as Florida, outright prohibit the practice.
- Other states, such as California and Mississippi, require Notaries to complete the certificate at the time they sign and affix their seal. Notaries in these states who fail to do this can have their commissions suspended or revoked, and California Notaries could be fined.
- Still other states’ laws say that a certificate must be completed “contemporaneously” with the performance of the notarial act, not before or after.
- Maryland takes a different approach. Notaries there may only complete certificates that are already part of the document; they may not complete and use loose or separate certificates at all. So they cannot send additional, unattached certificates.
NSAs in states that do not have one of these explicit laws should follow the established professional standard of practice against providing these extra certificates to clients. In fact, much of the mortgage industry already recognizes that requests for extra certificates are inappropriate.
As much as you might not want to, you will have to say “no” to any client who asks you to send extra certificates. Simply explain that it is against the law. Every certificate you complete must be attached to, related to or connected to a specific document. You also can remind the client that if an unattached certificate were to be used for fraud, they could be named in a lawsuit.