Power of Attorney – How to Sign Deeds and Other Legal Documents

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A power of attorney (POA) authorizes someone to sign legal or financial paperwork on your behalf.

The person who creates the POA is referred to as the principal.

The person authorized to sign on the principal’s behalf is referred to as the attorney-in-fact.

Most people understand how a POA works.

However, many people (including lawyers) don’t know how to format or execute deeds signed by an attorney-in-fact.

The procedure is outlined in Massachusetts Land Court Guideline 15.

The guideline states that the deed must be “executed in the name of the principal.”

According to the guideline,

where A.B. is the principal, a deed beginning “I, C.D.,” or “I, C.D. as attorney for A.B” is an improper form as to the granting clause, and will be ineffective as the deed of the principal.  The deed should be drafted by reciting in the granting clause the principal’s name only, as though there was no power of attorney.

In addition, the attorney-in-fact should sign using the principal’s name only.

Guideline 15 gives the following example.

We’ll assume that Mary Doe is the principal and that John Doe is her attorney in fact under a power of attorney:

/s/Mary Doe

By John Doe her Attorney in Fact

under Power of Attorney,

recorded with (Registry of Deeds)

Book —-, Page —–

In this instance, John will actually sign Mary’s name.

Finally, the notary clause should state that the document is the free act and deed of the principal, not the attorney-in-fact.

However, the clause should note that the attorney-in-fact was actually the person who appeared and signed.

Here’s the Guideline’s example.

Then personally appeared the aforementioned John Doe and acknowledged the foregoing instrument to be the free act and deed of Mary Doe.

If you have any questions about signing deeds or other legal documents using a POA, please contact me at justin@jrmccarthy.com.


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