Comprehensive Estate Planning And Probate Advocacy

What is a power of attorney designation?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Estate Planning

In Pennsylvania, a power of attorney (POA) designation is a legal document that grants one individual (an agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to make decisions and take actions on behalf of another individual (the principal) concerning financial, legal and/or medical matters. This authority is often limited to situations in which the creator of the POA is incapacitated due to illness, injury or old age. But, this resource can be used in a host of other tailored ways as well. 

This powerful tool is usually executed as part of a broader estate plan. However, some younger adults who do not yet have need of many other estate planning tools may draft this designation as a standalone resource at first. 

Types of Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recognizes several types of POA, which each serve distinct purposes. Generally, these differences hinge on whether a designation will be limited to medical decision-making, financial decision-making or both, in addition to when this authority “kicks in” and how far it will extend. 

For a POA to be valid in Pennsylvania, it must comply with state laws outlined in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Key requirements include:

  • The principal must be an adult with the capacity to understand what the document means at the time of signing.
  • The document must be signed by the creator and either notarized or signed by two witnesses who are not the designated agent.
  • The POA must include specific language acknowledging the principal’s understanding of the powers being granted.

Drafting this consequential estate planning resource can be an overwhelming undertaking. As such, individuals should take care to remember that they can seek legal guidance at any time.