The Pennsylvania durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a legal document one party, called the principal, issues to authorize another party, called the agent or the attorney-in-fact, to represent them before governmental, financial, medical, and other authorities and third parties.
The main feature of the durable power of attorney is that its validity and effectiveness won’t be affected by the eventual incapacity of the principal.
A Pennsylvania durable power of attorney can be used in every situation when the principal is not able to personally complete a certain action or make a certain decision.
That can happen due to the principal’s disability (like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) or simply because they lack certain professional knowledge to complete a certain action.
Durable Power of Attorney Laws & Requirements in Pennsylvania
Laws & Requirements
Relevant laws: Title 20, Chapter 56 - Powers of Attorney
Signing requirements: The principal must sign the Pennsylvania durable power of attorney before at least two witnesses and a notary public. (§ 5601(b)(3))
Statutory form: The Pennsylvania legislation doesn’t provide the statutory form for the power of attorney. However, it does provide the language that should be used when drafting the document at § 5602.
“Durable” as defined by the state law: § 5604(a) provides that “A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney by which a principal designates another as his agent in writing. The authority conferred shall be exercisable notwithstanding the principal’s subsequent disability or incapacity.”
How to Fill out a Durable Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania
#1. Designate an Agent
Firstly, you should find the person who will represent and protect your interests before third parties. The agent should be of legal age and have the legal capacity to act.
Secondly, when choosing the agent, you should look for someone you trust, especially if they will be authorized to make decisions regarding your finances or healthcare.
In this section, you can also name the successor agent. The successor agent will act in case the primary agent loses capacity or is otherwise unable to represent you.
#2. Grant Authority
Once you have determined the agent, you should define the scope of their authority.
The Pennsylvania durable power of attorney form provides three methods for determining the agent’s scope of authority:
Scope of Authority
General authority. By selecting this option, you will authorize your agent to take any action and represent you before any third party. You can limit the general authority by naming the activities that are not included in your agent’s scope of authority.
Partial authority. The Pennsylvania durable power of attorney form provides a list of activities from which you can select the ones you want to include in your agent’s scope of authority.
Special authority. This option enables you to describe your agent’s scope of authority in your own words. In this way, you can include even the authorities that are not provided in the durable power of attorney form.
#3. Ensure the Form is Durable
In Pennsylvania, the power of attorney is durable by default. This means that you will have to explicitly state in the document whether you want your power of attorney to be non-durable.
#4. Sign the Form
The principal must sign the document before at least two witnesses and a notary public.
#5. Notarize the Form
In Pennsylvania, the durable power of attorney must be notarized. By notarizing the document, the notary public will confirm the authenticity of the principal’s signature and the overall authenticity of the document.
#6. Store Your Durable Power of Attorney Form
After finalizing the durable power of attorney, you should keep the original copy in your possession.
You should give one copy to the agent so they can prove their capacity to the third parties they are interacting with on your behalf.
How to Revoke a Durable Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania
You can revoke the Pennsylvania durable power of attorney by issuing a verbal or written revocation, destroying the document with the intention of revoking it or issuing a new durable power of attorney that will revoke the previous one.
However, the best way to make the revocation is to issue the revocation letter. This letter should include the name of the agent and the date of the issuance of the power of attorney you want to revoke.
To make the revocation effective, you should give a copy of the revocation letter to the agent and to every third party they are interacting with on your behalf.