A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives an individual (known as “the agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) the authority to act on behalf of another person (called “the principal”).
The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make decisions about the principal’s property, finances, or medical care. A POA is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary documents for financial transactions.
The types of powers of attorney include:
- Conventional, also known as a limited power of attorney;
- Durable, which lasts for a lifetime unless you cancel it;
- Springing, which only comes into play for specific events; and
- Medical, also known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare.
Each state has its own specific requirements for powers of attorney.
Massachusetts’ Durable Power of Attorney Laws can be found here (and yes two witnesses are required in Massachusetts):
Many financial institutions examine the POA for witnesses and will question a document without a witness.
So if the validity of a POA is called in question, a witness would be needed to swear that he or she saw the maker of the POA execute the instrument as their own act, therefore.
Regardless, do not go it alone. Engage the services of an experienced estate planning attorney admitted to practice law in your state.
Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning, Power of Attorney