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How To Notarize For A Signer Who Has Power Of Attorney

signing-power-attorney-resi.jpgUpdated 1-28-19. Imagine you are asked to notarize a signature--and you realize the individual whose signature is on the document isn't present. "I'll sign it," says the person who brought you the document. "I have power of attorney to act for them."

Can you perform the notarization? Possibly — but it depends on your state law, the type of document involved and there may be special rules to follow. Here are 5 important things to know before you notarize for a signer claiming power of attorney. 

What is a power of attorney and an attorney in fact?
 

A power of attorney is a document authorizing someone to perform duties on behalf of another individual. A person granted power of attorney to sign documents for someone else is typically referred to as an attorney in fact or agent, and the individual represented is referred to as a principal.

An attorney in fact has authority to sign the principal's name and have that signature notarized without the principal being present.

Are there special rules when notarizing a document granting power of attorney to someone?
 

Some states may have special requirements when notarizing a document granting power of attorney. Always be sure to follow your state rules if asked to notarize a signature on a power of attorney document. 

If a California Notary is asked to notarize a signature for a document granting power of attorney, the Notary must obtain the signer's thumbprint for their journal entry. California Notaries are also authorized to certify copies of a power of attorney document. Page 16 of the state's Notary Public Handbook includes recommended certificate wording that California Notaries may use if asked to certify a copy of a power of attorney. 

In Florida, if the person signing a power of attorney document is physically unable to write their name, FS 709.2202[2] permits the Notary to sign and/or initial a power of attorney on behalf of the disabled signer. The principal must direct the Notary to do so, and the signing must be done in the presence of the signer and two disinterested witnesses. The Notary must write the statement “Signature or initials affixed by the Notary pursuant to s. 709.2202(2), Florida Statutes” below each such signature or initialing. ​

How do I notarize the signature of someone who has power of attorney?
 

An attorney in fact typically signs a document with two names: the attorney in fact’s own name and the name of the principal. For example, if John Doe is acting as attorney in fact for Mary Sue, he could sign like this:

“John Doe, attorney in fact for Mary Sue, principal”

Or,

“Mary Sue, by John Doe, attorney in fact”

In this case, John Doe is the person appearing before you and signing the document, but doing so on behalf of Mary Sue. Because John Doe is the only person who is physically present and signing, you would write John Doe's name as the signer in the appropriate parts of the certificate wording (for example, “… personally appeared before me John Doe, who acknowledged …”).

You would only have to verify the identity of the attorney in fact, not the principal. In our example, John Doe would only need to show you his ID, but would not need to show you Mary Sue's driver's license as well.

Some states, such as Florida, may require the Notary to use specific certificate wording when notarizing the signature of a person acting as an attorney in fact. Florida statutes provide wording for an Acknowledgment by Representative (FS 117.05[13][c]) and a Short Form Acknowledgment by Attorney in Fact (FS 695.25[4]).  

When recording your Notary journal entry, the attorney in fact signs his or her own name. You should also note in the entry that the signer was acting as an attorney in fact and the name of the principal the signer represented.

Do I need to ask for proof of the attorney in fact's authority?
 

Idaho and Minnesota require Notaries to verify the authority of someone signing as a representative through either your personal knowledge or by requesting written proof from the signer. Montana strongly recommends this practice.

Hawaii requires attorneys in fact to present to the Notary the original power of attorney document or a certified copy of the document giving them authority to sign. 

California, Kansas and North Carolina do not require Notaries to verify a signer's representative status. 

In other states, if a person is signing as a representative of an absent principal, the NNA recommends asking the signer to formally state out loud in your presence that they have authority to sign on the principal's behalf. 

What about jurats?
 

Be aware that even if someone has power of attorney to sign on a principal's behalf, taking an oath or affirmation in the name of another person is generally not permitted. If an attorney in fact requests a jurat, the attorney in fact must swear or affirm before you in his or her own name only — not the principal’s.

For example, if John Doe is signing a document that requires a jurat on behalf of Mary Sue, John Doe could take an oath stating “I, John Doe, swear the contents of this document are true,” but could not say “Mary Sue swears the contents of this document are true,” or “I swear on behalf of Mary Sue the contents of this document are true.”

What certificate do I use if someone is signing as attorney in fact?
 

If your state law prescribes a specific certificate for someone signing as attorney in fact, use that wording. If your state does not specify attorney-in-fact wording, then you may use the appropriate standard certificate for the acknowledgment. Always make sure you are using the appropriate wording required in your state or territory before proceeding.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

42 Comments

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jeevesdegree@gmail.com

28 Sep 2015

read article

nairjayen@gmail.com

28 Sep 2015

none

Joan A. Baffa

30 Sep 2015

A word of caution taken from one of the NNA SORRY NO CAN DO! booklets: "An oath (or affirmation) is a personal commitment of conscience that cannot be relayed through a third party. The oath taker must be in the physical presence of the Notary or other oath-administering officer. If your document states that the signer "subscribed and swore," "deposed and said" or the like, an oath is needed.

Deborah Chambers

20 Oct 2015

This is valuable information to Notary public.

Andrew Homan

09 May 2016

What if the attorney in fact forgets to add POA or attorney in fact after their sig?

sporty-girl

28 Sep 2016

My brother had his notary, (also his secretary) skim over the POA of Finance to my Mom. Is it legal for him to let someone else do this? Is it a conflict of interest for her to notarize such an important document for him? I don't trust him.

National Notary Association

30 Sep 2016

Hello. We're sorry, we are not 100 percent clear from your question what the Notary did to "skim over" the PDF for your mother. However, we can tell you that Notaries who are not attorneys are not allowed to give advice or answer questions about the contents and legal effects of a document to a signer.

Rosalie

03 Nov 2016

Can a borrower use the verbiage "Power of Attorney" after his signature? Or does he have to sign "Attorney In Fact"?

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2016

Hello. A nonattorney Notary can't advise a signer on what title to sign a documetn with. That would depend on the instructions of the agency that issued the document or the agency receiving it. The signer should contact those agencies or a qualified attorney for instructions regarding any requirements for signing the document.

Linda Fuller

04 Nov 2016

What is your definition of ATTORNEY IN FACT

National Notary Association

04 Nov 2016

Hello. As stated above, an attorney in fact is a person granted power of attorney to sign documents for someone else (the principal). An attorney in fact has authority to sign the principal's name and have that signature notarized without the principal being present.

Karen

07 Dec 2016

If my brother is Attorney In Fact, is he able/suppose to sign any other documents that may come up in the future? Thanks

National Notary Association

09 Dec 2016

Hi Karen. We're sorry, but that's a legal question we can't answer. You would need to speak with a qualified attorney to help you with this issue.

Tracey Strong

21 Mar 2017

I'm the power of attorney for my mother but the notary did not have my mother to sign and there were boxes checked that should of had her initials but it does not. My mom has late stage dementia and is cognitively incapable of understanding. This has caused a nightmare for me. I wasn't there at the signing but it was done at a very well known bank and I guess he was distracted from their chadder.

howard loewenstein

13 May 2017

Can a lawyer who is also a notary who was involved with the case, sat in on its meetings and pretty much held the meeting at his office was there and was involved and had all to do with this meeting with other town officials be the one to notarize this or any document directly involved with this meeting ? it was a meeting to extend someones initial work probation and he was the person leading the meeting and then when the paperwork was drawn up for signatures of parties.... he was the one who notarized this in 3 spots on the stipulation agreement. IS THIS PERMITTED????? i dont believe this is legal as a notary myself. PLEASE HELP.

National Notary Association

15 May 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but so that we can provide you with correct information can you please tell us what state the Notary was commissioned in?

Patti Sienko

01 Jun 2017

I'm not sure if my question was transferred to you so I'll re-submit. Can I forward NNA requirements to someone that is not a notary?

National Notary Association

01 Jun 2017

Hello Patti. What "NNA requirements" are you referring to, please?

Patti Sienko

01 Jun 2017

I am a Realtor® and a Notary. Question: Can I be employed as an independent Notary at a Title Company as long as I (of course) NEVER notarize my own Real Estate Transaction as that would be a Conflict of Interest. Answer needed before I accept this position. Thank You. Patti

National Notary Association

01 Jun 2017

Hello Patti. Could we ask for a couple of clarifications, please? When you say "independent Notary," do you mean working as a Notary Signing Agent? Also, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Paul .M

12 Aug 2017

is it legal for a person who works for a lawer, but is not a lawer herself, sign and notarize as /for power of attorney?

National Notary Association

14 Aug 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but we cannot answer legal questions regarding the preparation of powers of attorney. You would need to speak with a qualified lawyer for assistance.

Sara H

05 Sep 2017

I'm from FLorida Can I work as Real Estate Agent and Independent NSA and the same time? Thank you!

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2017

Hello. Currently, there are no statutes, regulations or rules expressly governing, prohibiting or restricting the operation of Notary Signing Agents within the state of Florida.

Leanne Hendricks

07 Sep 2017

Your article states, "If a California Notary is asked to notarize a signature for a document granting power of attorney that relates to real estate, the Notary must obtain the signer's thumbprint for their journal entry." However, I believe a thumbprint is required if the document to be notarized deals with real estate (with a few exceptions) OR if it is a power of attorney document being notarized. It doesn't need to be a "document granting power of attorney that relates to real estate." The CA Notary Public Handbook states, "If the document to be notarized is a deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust, or other document affecting real property OR a power of attorney document, the notary public shall require the party signing the document to place his or her right thumbprint in the journal." (emphasis added)

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2017

Thank you Leanne. We've corrected the information in the article.

Robyn

13 Sep 2017

How can the attorney in fact sign without the principal signing, giving permission for them to have POA?

Jovanna

08 Jun 2018

Can an attorney in fact sign trust documents ? State of California.

National Notary Association

11 Jun 2018

Hello. We're sorry, but we're not clear what it is you are asking from your comment. Are you asking if an attorney's signature can be notarized on a trust document, or are you asking if an attorney is permitted to notarize a trust document?

Sab

19 Sep 2018

Can a company request a client to sign a Limited Power of Attorney but not be present during notary?

National Notary Association

20 Sep 2018

Hello. If the company is asking the Notary to notarize the client's signature without the client being present, the answer is no. Failing to require personal appearance by the signer could result in serious legal and financial consequences for the Notary. See here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/09/10-steps-notaries-avoid-being-sued

JOE

07 Nov 2018

State of California Mortgage Document has borrower Joe & Jon. Joe signed for himself & for Jon as Attorney-In-Fact. For the Notary Acknowledgment section in the "Personally Appeared" section should it only list Joe or should it lists Joe & Jon.

National Notary Association

07 Nov 2018

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Julian

10 Nov 2018

In NY State, does the language state "power of attorney for" or is it just state the name of the person named in the document for which the POA is signing? Thank you

National Notary Association

14 Nov 2018

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Jacqueline Rippo

04 Feb 2019

In NJ, if you sign as attorney in fact on a Deed, the POA must be recorded with the Deed. Only a Mortgage doesn't need the POA to be recorded with the Mortgage, but the POA must state this is given for the property in question. A General POA, once recorded, can be used for all transactions, even disability issues. Thought this should be noted.

Nawal O Antoin

04 Feb 2019

Does the document “Powe Of Attorney “ need to be recorded in order to be valid?.

National Notary Association

05 Feb 2019

Hello. That is a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Mary Lou Stewart

05 Feb 2019

IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA, IS A HOLOGRAPHIC WILL LEGAL WITHOUT A NOTARIZED SIGNATURE?

National Notary Association

05 Feb 2019

Hello. That is a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Jimmy Maisonet

06 Feb 2019

If a person is placed in jail and has a bond and using his owned home in Puerto Rico is used as collateral to bond out can I notarize a affidavit surrendering the deed?

National Notary Association

06 Feb 2019

Hello. If you are asking whether or not a notarized document would be appropriate for this situation or not, we're sorry, but that is a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney. However, if you are asking if such a document may be notarized, it would depend on whether the requested notarization is permitted in your state and if the notarization meets all requirements of your state's Notary laws.

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