Signing With a Power of Attorney for Sacramento Real Estate

signing with a power of attorneyOne of the most commonly used and often misunderstood documents is the power of attorney, especially when used in conjunction with real estate. Basically, we use two different types in California: a specific or a general power of attorney. When it comes to real estate, many title companies prefer the specific power of attorney. This comes up a lot, especially with trusts. People seem to think you can use a power of attorney any old time and you can’t. You can’t use a power of attorney with a trust. That’s why a trust names a successor trustee.

Also, for example, a person can’t sign a power of attorney giving another authority to sign on her or his behalf if that individual is not in full control of her or his mental abilities. In other words, if the person suffers from dementia and is unable to manage her or his own affairs, that person does NOT have the capacity to sign a power of attorney. The time to sign a power of attorney is while the person still knows what’s going on and understands what she or he is signing.

It also goes without saying, a person can’t be dead. A power of attorney terminates upon death. Dead people are not capable of entering into agreements; I don’t care which SYFY show you watch.

That’s all the basics you need to know, except the specifics of signing with a power of attorney. Here are the general rules:

  1. Sign the other person’s name first
  2. Then use the word “by”
  3. Followed by your name, and
  4. then “as her (his) attorney-in-fact.”

Say, we’ve got a married couple like Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. If David were to embark on an African safari while he and Neil were buying a home, David could give Neil his power of attorney. Neil would sign as follows:

David Burtka, by Neil Patrick Harris as his attorney-in-fact.

When dealing with Sacramento real estate and a purchase contract, make sure your agent also prepares a RCSD, representative capacity signature disclosure. This lays out who can sign for whom. It may also require a copy of the power of attorney.

One important caveat, though, concerning signing with a power of attorney that I discovered last week. DO NOT PRINT your signature. You would think nobody would have to say this to another person, but you do. There are people who will print a signature. Especially those millennials who never learned cursive writing in school.

We had a closing held up last week because the buyer printed her spouse’s signature with a POA! The buyer signed in front of a mobile notary, and the mobile notary did not know enough to know the buyer could not print a signature.

At least the buyer’s grade school taught kids to print. I’d hate to think that in this day and age a person could not communicate without a computer or cellphone. But some millennials, apparently, could be stuck drawing stick figures. It’s like we’re back to telling stories through art on caveman walls because nobody can write anymore.

I clearly recall in third grade receiving a very low grade in cursive writing. Big trouble, not allowed to bring home low grades. I had resisted moving from printing to a new form of communication. Didn’t hurt I printed beautifully. Block letters, easy to read. Now I had to learn a new way of communicating. My mother forced me to copy a chapter from a book in cursive. And I embraced it. Perhaps I’m  jealous that today’s kids aren’t forced to make that transition. You kids get offa my lawn. But it does come in handy.

Elizabeth Weintraub


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