What are the requirements for signing, witnesses and notarization?
Different jurisdictions have different signing requirements for powers of attorney, which may depend on what powers are given to the attorney. If you are giving your attorney the power to sell or otherwise dispose of your property, you will probably have to acknowledge your document before a Notary Public. Otherwise, witnesses should be legally sufficient. Be aware, however, that many banks and other institutions have their own policies about signing requirements, and may refuse to accept documents that are not notarized regardless of their legal sufficiency. If you want to avoid bureaucratic hold-ups, it is probably a good idea to take your document to a notary public as well as having it witnessed.
What does it mean to “execute” a document?
When a person “executes” a document, he or she signs it with the proper “formalities”. For example: If there is a legal requirement that the signature on the document be witnessed, the person executes the document by signing it in the presence of the required number of witnesses.
How should I sign my power of attorney document?
To be valid, you must sign the document with your usual cheque signing signature. You should also initial each page of the document. The signing and the initialing of the pages must occur in the presence of your notary or witness(es).
After you have signed and initialed your document in front of your notary or witness(es), your notary or witness(es) must sign on the applicable page of the power of attorney and should initial each page. This must occur in your presence.Does it matter where my power of attorney document is signed and witnessed?
If your document will be used in a different jurisdiction – but not in a foreign nation – there is no problem with having the document signed and witnessed where you live, rather than where the document will be used. The witnessing requirements (number of witnesses required, whether or not notarization is needed) should still be those of the place where the power of attorney will be used, however.What if my power of attorney will be used in a foreign nation?
If your document is intended to be used in a foreign nation, you may have to have it “authenticated” or “legalized”. This is a process whereby a government official (e.g., the Secretary of State, the Foreign Office, the Office of the Attorney General – depending on where you live) certifies that the signature of the authority (e.g. notary or solicitor) on your document is authentic and should be accepted in the foreign nation. For more information about document authentication and legalization, contact the local consulate/embassy of the foreign country your document will be going to, or one of the following government web sites:
United States: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/
United Kingdom: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/docs-and-legal-services/legalisation/
Canada: http://www.gov.on.ca/MBS/english/mbs/ods/authent.html (web site is for Ontario – other provinces contact the provincial Office of the Attorney General)