As you reach your golden years, it’s important to make sure your estate is in order. As part of the estate planning process, you should considering granting a family member or close friend power of attorney over your decisions.

Once you have granted he power of attorney to someone you trust, that person will be able to protect your interests if you become unable to make decisions on your own behalf. Below you will find some basic rules and tips regarding power of attorney in Pennsylvania.

Choose Your Agent Wisely

As the principal—the person granting power of attorney—you will appoint an agent who will have the ability to make the decisions enumerated in your agreement.

Generally, an agent has the ability to:

  • Sign contracts on your behalf
  • Make financial and medical decisions on your behalf

These are all very significant life matters, so it is important to pick someone you trust to make decisions that align with your goals and wishes.

The Agreement Must Be in Writing

Per Pennsylvania law, any power of attorney agreement must be in writing, signed by the principal and the agent. There is no need to have any witnesses or notaries, unless the principal is unable to sign on his or her own behalf.

Also, the beginning your agreement needs to contain the statutory language found in Title 20, Section 5601(c) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. You will also need to include the language of Section 5601(d) at the end of your document.

You should also note the beginning and start dates of the agent’s power of attorney. This protects you from any undue assertion of power from an agent going beyond his or her duties.

Discuss the Agreement with Your Agent

Before signing the power of attorney forms, you should go over, in detail, all aspects of the agreement with your agent-to-be. Your agent may not be comfortable with all of the authority you intend to grant, and you can tailor the agreement to fit both of your needs.

Sign Your Agreement

In Pennsylvania, your power of attorney form is not valid until both the principal and the agent sign the document. You do not need to file this form with any agency.

Do You Need an Attorney’s Help?

It is not necessary to use an attorney to fill out your power of attorney forms, however, consulting an experienced estate lawyer can make the process easier and less time consuming. He or she can help you draft the agreement in a way that best achieves your goals and protects your interests.