Signing documentsThis is the next post in a series of articles focused on understanding powers of attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. The previous post provided basic information about durable powers of attorney, including their purpose, powers granted, and important considerations in determining if such a document is appropriate. Powers of attorney can be useful tools in enabling a trusted friend or family member to handle one’s affairs during a specific time period, or generally in the event of illness or incapacity. If the form is not prepared or executed properly, however, the power of attorney may not be enforceable. This article will review the applicable legal requirements for valid powers of attorney in detail. An experienced attorney can ensure that document complies with the rules. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.Clear cache

Under Connecticut law, a power of attorney must be signed in front of two witnesses and notarized in order to be considered enforceable. Once executed in this manner, the powers are immediately effective unless the document states otherwise. When attempting to take actions granted in the power of attorney, an agent must be able to produce the original witnessed and notarized document to the third party along with identification. The third party will take a copy and return the original, however, the original must be produced.  Depending upon the scope of authority and when the power of attorney becomes active, an agent may be required to provide additional information before acting on the principal’s behalf. For example, if a principal grants a broad power of attorney to an agent, effective during a certain time period, then a third party will likely consider the document valid so long as the action is within the relevant date range. On the other hand, some individuals only want the document to become effective if a specific event occurs. The power of attorney may be deemed valid only upon an unexpected illness or an incapacity preventing the principal from acting on his own accord. When based upon the occurrence of a triggering event, the powers are called “springing” powers of attorney. In addition to providing the executed power of attorney, the agent may be required to verify that the triggering event has occurred. For example, if the power of attorney requires a physician’s determination of disability, the agent will likely be asked to provide necessary documentation from the physician before the agent is given authority by a third party (such as a bank) to take action on the principal’s behalf.

Updated or replacement powers of attorney must also be witnessed and notarized in the same manner. It is important to note that simply updating or executing a new document will not necessarily revoke a previously granted power of attorney. Outdated powers of attorney should be destroyed if possible. If the old document has been filed with a bank or other institution already, the principal may be required to formally revoke the recorded version in writing before the new version will be recognized.

Those desiring to establish a power of attorney should have a clear understanding of these requirements to ensure that their documentation accomplishes the intended objectives. Even if using a publicly available form to prepare your document, failure to comply with the legal requirements may render the power of attorney invalid or create unexpected hurdles for your agent. We cannot overemphasize the importance of consulting with an experienced attorney to help ensure that your goals are accomplished and your interests are protected. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak to a Hartford lawyer. We also serve clients in Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill and elsewhere in Connecticut.