How to sign as a power of attorney

Cindy Hill

As a designated agent under a power-of-attorney arrangement, you are tasked with carrying out the business of your principal in an appropriate legal manner. You must properly sign legal documents like checks, contracts, or deeds.

While the law does not mandate that a particular method be used, the steps below provide effective guidelines for power-of-attorney signatures.

Review the power-of-attorney documents authorising you to act as your principal's agent or attorney-in-fact. Determine if it specifically authorises you to sign the kinds of document with which you will be presented. Do not presume that you have full power to sign all documents; every power of attorney agreement is different and many have strict limitations on the agent's powers.

To issue a check on behalf of your principal, fill out the date, the name of the person to whom the check is designated, and the dollar amount. Sign the name of the principal on the signature line. Then under or adjacent to this signature, print "By" followed by your name, then print "as POA for" followed by the name of the principal.

To endorse a check made out to your principal, sign the principal's name on the back of the check. Under that signature, print "By" followed by your name. Under this print "as POA for" and, again, print the name of your principal. The bank may request that you then sign your own name after this, but consult with a bank official before doing so.

When signing contracts on behalf of your principal, sign your own name. After signing your name, print your name then, "As POA for" or "As Agent for" followed by the name of your principal. Enter "POA Agent" as your title where requested to do so on tax returns or other forms.

Follow the laws of your state when signing real estate documents; each state's laws require different signature methods, e.g., what name to sign and whether witnesses or notary acknowledgements are required. Consult an attorney or bank lending officer regarding the appropriate form of signature for deeds, leases, mortgages, and equity loans.