Powers of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written document where a Principal, the individual making the Power of Attorney, designates an Agent to transact a wide variety of powers and duties (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5601 et.seq.). The Agent then acts for and on behalf of the Principal and has a duty to act consistently with the known intent of the Principal.

Who can make a Power of Attorney?

In Pennsylvania, any capacitated person who is at least 18 years old may make a Power of Attorney document (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5601).

How should my Power of Attorney be written?

As of January 1, 2015, a Financial Power of Attorney is not valid unless it is signed by the Principal, has two witnesses and notarized. If for any physical reason the Principal is unable to sign the Power of Attorney, a mark may be made in the presence of two witnesses who are at least 18 years old, and the two witnesses must sign the Power of Attorney in the presence of the Principal. Be very careful as of January 1, 2015, the Financial Power of Attorney requires the Principal to be very specific as to what powers are being given. Further, the Power of Attorney document is not valid unless it includes a conspicuous “notice”, signed by the Principal, appointing and empowering the Agent and an “acknowledgement”, signed by the Agent, accepting appointment. These two notices both changed as of January 1, 2015.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

The Healthcare Power of Attorney needs two witnesses. It does not have to be notarized. It does not require the Notice by Agent or Principal.

The Agent may authorize admission of the Principal to a medical facility and authorize medical procedures (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5603(h)).

A power to authorize admission to a medical, nursing, residential or similar facility and to enter into agreements for care means that the Agent may apply for the admission of the Principal to a medical, nursing, residential or other similar facility, execute any consent or admission forms required by such facility and enter into agreements for the care of the Principal (see 20 Pa. C.S.A. §5602(a)(8)).

A power to authorize medical and surgical procedures means that the Agent may arrange for and consent to medical, therapeutic and surgical procedures for the Principal, including the administration of drugs (see 20 Pa. C.S.A. §5602(a)(9)).

How is a Power of Attorney affected by disability?

The document creates a Durable Power of Attorney (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5602(a)). The powers granted to Agent shall last indefinitely unless limited within the Power of Attorney (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5602(a)). These powers (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5603) will continue to exist notwithstanding subsequent disability, incapacity or incompetency (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5604).

How is a Power of Attorney terminated?

The Principal has the right to revoke, terminate, or modify the Power of Attorney at any time. The documents is automatically revoked with the notice of death (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5605(a)) or upon disability or incapacity if the document is not durable (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5605(b)) or upon filing for a Divorce where spouse is Agent (20 Pa. C.S.A. §5601(e)(2) and (4)).