Changes to Pa Power of Attorney Law


Beginning January 1, 2015, powers of attorney in the state of Pennsylvania will require two witnesses and notarization. Any power of attorney signed prior to January 1, 2015 will not need to meet these requirements, and there is no need to sign new ones simply to meet the new law's requirements.

The law itself is Act 95 of 2014. To see the actual changes, click here.

Specific changes made include:

EXECUTION

A third party may sign a power of attorney on behalf of a principal if directed to do so by the principal. The signature must still be notarized and witnessed by two disinterested persons.

NOTICE PAGE

Language was inserted making clear to the principal that the agent must act in line with the principal's expectations, if they are known, and that the agent must act in furtherance of principal's best interests.

The agent also has the authority to give away all of the principal's property (as in a context where medical assistance is sought and threshholds must be met) and how that property is distributed after the principal's death.

AGENT'S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The agent must act in accordance with the principal's reasonable expectations, if they are known. The agent must act in good faith and within the parameters set by the power of attorney.

FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP

The requirement of two witnesses, a notice page, and an acknowledgement page are not necessary in the context of a power: a commercial instrument authorizing an agency relationship; if coupled with an interest in the subject of th epower (creditor in connection with loan); exclusively granted to transfer stock, bonds, etc.; contained in the governing document for a corporation which a director authorizes others to act on behalf of the entity; a warrant of attorney giving authority to confess judgment; given to a dealer as defined by Board of Vehicles Act when used in a sale, purchase, or transfer of a vehicle; created on a form prescribed by a Commonwealth agency or political subdivision.

MENTAL HEALTH

Limitations of agents duties are not applicable in health care and mental health care decision.

DEFINITIONS

"Agent" - a person designated by a principal in a power of attorney to act on behalf of that principal.

"Good faith" - Honesty in fact.

AGENT'S DUTIES

This section includes a long list of duties. Check here for the actual language. Some duties:

Act in line with known expectations; act in good faith; do not commingle principal's funds with agent's; keep records of all receipts, disbursements, transactions; cooperate with person who has authority to make health care decisions on behalf of principal; preserve principal's estate plan, if known.

AGENT'S LIABILITY

An agent who acts in good faith, with care and competence for the best inetrest of the principal is not liable for failure to preserve the estate plan, solely because they benefit from an act that benefitted the principal, if the value of the principal's property declines, or for the actions of a person granted authority by proper delegation. If the agent was chosen because of specialized skill, that skill will be considered in determining care and competence in the agent's actions.

FIDUCIARY DISCLOSURES

No disclosure of receipts, disbursements, or transactions is necessary unless ordered by a court or requested by the principal, a guardian, conservator, or other fiduciary. If a request is made disclosure must be made within 30 days.

AUTHORITY OF AGENT

An agent may only do the following if expressly stated in the power of attorney: create, amend, or revoke an inter vivos trust; make a gift; create or change rights of survivorship; create or change a beneficiary designation; delegate authoruty granted by the power; waive the principal's right to be a beneficiary of a joint and survivor annuity; exercise fiduciary powers that the principal has delegated; disclaim property.

Unless the power of attorney states otherwise, an agent may not exercise authority under a power of attorney to create in teh agent an interest in the principal's property unless the agent is an ancestor, spouse, or descendant of the principal.

MODIFICATION

A principal may modify the authority of an agent.

COPIES

Copies of a power of attorney may be used and have the same effect as the original.

LIMITED GIFTS

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