How to Sign as Power of Attorney for Your Elderly Parent in 4 Easy Steps

Sophie Bebeau

Written by Sophie Bebeau on Wed Oct 19 2022.

How to Sign as Power of Attorney for Your Elderly Parent in 4 Easy Steps

Becoming your parent’s power of attorney (or POA) can be an important step as they age, especially if they can no longer make sound decisions surrounding their own medical and financial responsibilities. When you become a POA for your parent, you are called the “agent,” and your parent is called the “principal.”

What are Some Tasks You Might Take On as Power of Attorney?

You will be able to make decisions on behalf of your parent. This includes things like making medical decisions and managing their property and finances.

You will be responsible for their finances. This includes paying bills and taxes, as well as handling any bank accounts or investments that they have set up in their name.

You will be responsible for their medical care. As power of attorney, you may have the right to sign off on certain medical procedures, including surgery or other treatments without consulting with anyone else.

You will be responsible for their property. You may need to sell a house if it's needed in order to pay off debts or to support your parent if they move into a long-term care facility.

The Four Types of Power of Attorney

General power of attorney

This is the most common type of power of attorney.  It can be used by anyone to sign on your behalf and has no expiration date unless you specify one.

Limited power of attorney

This is similar to a general power of attorney but restricts what you, as the agent, can do for the principal. For example, if your parent needed you to make financial decisions for them, but don’t need you to handle other aspects of their life – such as medical documents or property management – then a limited power of attorney would be appropriate.

Durable power of attorney

Durable power of attorney allows an agent to make decisions for a principal until the principal either passes away or revokes the agent’s rights. Durable power of attorney is often used when an agent may need to make decisions for a principle for a longer period of undetermined time, as opposed to non-durable power of attorney, which is only for specific amounts of time or for limited transactions.

Spring power of attorney

A springing power of attorney grants the agent power of attorney for the principal only after a specific event has taken place or the principal can no longer make their own decisions.

Steps before signing documents as power of attorney

The process of signing as a power of attorney for an elderly parent is actually fairly easy. Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Do your research.

You should know exactly what you'll be signing, so it's important to read over the documents and make sure they accurately state your relationship with your parent and their wishes. You want to make sure it is crystal clear that you are signing on behalf of your parent (the principal).

2. Get a copy of the power of attorney document.

The documents will vary by state but should always include information about who can act as a POA (you), how long this lasts (usually until their passing), whether there are any conditions attached (such as needing to live in the same home), and who will receive copies after signing has been completed (usually just yourself).

Some states also require that these documents be recorded within 30 days after being signed—this varies by state, so check yours to make sure you are meeting any and all requirements. 

3. Double-check your state’s laws.

Different states have different laws about the requirements for signing documents as someone’s power of attorney. Some states require witnesses to be present to sign the document as well or some states ask that the document be notarized. Talk to your attorney to make sure you understand your state’s requirements.

How to sign documents as power of attorney

1. Put the principal’s name first.

Remember, you are signing on your parent’s behalf, so their name goes first, which signifies that they are the person entering into the contract or performing the transaction.

2. Write “by” after the principal’s name.

3. Sign your own name next.

4. Show that you are signing as the POA.

Write “as POA,” “as Agent”, “as Attorney-in-Fact,” or “as Power of Attorney” after your signature.

The signature line on the document should look something like this:

Parent’s (principal’s) name, by your (agent’s) signature as POA.

If you need help deciding if it’s time to consider becoming your parent’s POA or need to learn more about the right type of POA for your situation, speak to a lawyer. If you feel confident about your understanding of power of attorney, visit a site like Rocket Lawyer to create your own POA based on your state.

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Sophie Bebeau
Sophie Bebeau

Sophie Bebeau is a writer, graphic designer, poet, and multidisciplinary artist living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When she’s not writing or making things for the internet, she can be found cross-stitching, writing poetry, and snuggling on the couch with a cup of tea and her husband, son, and dog, Buttercup.