When signing as an agent with power of attorney (POA), it is very important to make it clear that you are acting on behalf of the principal and not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.

It is a good idea to ask the institution requesting a signature if they require it to appear in a certain way. Some bank forms and legal documents must be signed with a preferred format. Regardless of how the signature appears, never sign your name without indicating in writing that you are acting as power of attorney. Use the following pointers to avoid any issues with using POA to sign documents on a loved one’s behalf.

  1. Have the power of attorney document on hand when you sign anything on behalf of the principal. The POA may already be on file with the institution you are dealing with, however the process is often quicker and easier if you can produce the document when requested.
  2. Print the principal’s name first on the signature line. This ensures that the principal is the one engaging in the contract or transaction.
  3. After the principal’s name, write “by” and then sign your own name.
    (Principal’s Name, by Your Signature)
  4. Under or after the signature line, indicate your status as POA by including any of the following identifiers: as POA, as Agent, as Attorney in Fact or as Power of Attorney.

Once you have assumed the duties of POA, your parent’s completed signature line should look like this on all transactional documents you handle for them:

John Jones, by Jane Jones as Power of Attorney