If you have not already done so, now is the time to get your Power of Attorney. Pennsylvania has adopted a new Power of Attorney law and many of the sections affecting the Power of Attorney form take effect January 1, 2015.
The changes to the Power of Attorney form itself include an updated notice for signing by the principal, the person making a Power of Attorney, and an updated acknowledgement for signing by the agent, the person appointed to serve on behalf of the principal. In our office, alongwith the principal signature, we require the signature of two witnesses before a notary. Under the new law, it is now a requirement. Finally, certain powers, such as the power of the Agent to make a gift or change a beneficiary designation, must now be specifically set forth in the document otherwise the agent does not have the power to perform these acts and others as listed under the statute.
Other than the requirements of the form, the new law addresses third party recognition and reliance on the Power of Attorney. If a third party (such as a bank) relies upon a properly prepared Power of Attorney document, the third party is immune from liability if it later turns out that the document is invalid. Often representatives of banks or other institutions refuse to recognize a Power of Attorney because it did not fit the form preferred by the bank or institution though such form had been prepared by the customer’s attorney.
The problem that still persists is that a bank representative or other party being asked to accept a Power of Attorney may request an opinion of counsel that the Agent is acting within the scope of authority granted under the Power of Attorney document. This could prove to be a burdensome requirement for the customer and will generally be addressed on a case by case basis until this is no longer a requirement.
Contact us at 215-321-4033 for further information.