Power of Attorney in Connecticut
with answers by Ernest Adams, Mobile Notary Public
This information is provided as a public service. Please see the Disclaimers before relying on this information. You must not consider anything on this website to be legal advice.
I am not an attorney. I am a Notary Public. I cannot give legal advice. Please see the disclaimers.
This Page answers some of the questions that I have been asked, and that a Notary Public is allowed to answer. Please consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut for legal advice regarding a Connecticut Power of Attorney.
The Connecticut Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney form can be confusing. Please take the time to read the information for everyone section before reading the other section(s) that apply to you or that most interest you.
For economy of words, we will use the word "PoA" to mean the Power of Attorney form, the physical document. In order to avoid legalese such as "grantor" and "grantee", "you" means different things in different sections.
This Page is divided in five sections:
- Information for everyone. The basics that anyone considering granting or using a Power of Attorney needs to know.
- Information for the person granting the Power of Attorney.
- Information for the person receiving the Power of Attorney.
- Information for the people where the Power of Attorney will be used.
- Questions That I've Been Asked But Can't Answer
Information for Everyone
A Power of Attorney can be a license to steal.
The following is just good common sense, not legal advice: Be absolutely sure that you want the person to whom you are granting Power of Attorney to have the authority to do the things that you are granting them the right to do. An ill-considered Power of Attorney is a license to steal.
The Connecticut Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney form (PoA) can be confusing because it is probably the opposite of what you would expect. A person who wishes to grant a power does not initial or mark in any way the specific power that they desire to grant. For example, if you wanted to have the person receiving the Power of Attorney to sign checks on your behalf, sell your car, and buy or sell stocks and bonds, but not be able to sell your house, that part of your PoA form might look like this, where "XXX" stands for your written initials:
|(A)||real estate transactions;||( XXX )|
|(B)||chattel and goods transactions;||( )|
|(C)||bond, share and commodity transactions;||( )|
|(D)||banking transactions;||( )|
Please notice that there is a single horizontal line through "real estate transactions" and your three written initials are in the box nearby. A competent Notary Public would be sure that you had both struck through what you didn't want to grant and initialed it also. Your Notary cannot give you advice about what powers to grant or withhold.
My best guess (and it is purely a guess) is that the attorneys who designed the form felt that having you cross out and initial what you didn't want was the best way to prevent fraud. If anyone forged your initials or made additional marks after your signature was notarized, then some powers would be withheld, not granted. Changing a document on which the signature has been notarized is fraud.
General Power of Attorney questions and answers
"Do I have to use the 'Connecticut Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney form?'"
Your attorney may have you use a different form. Or your attorney may create your PoA to be uniquely your own. Your Connecticut attorney knows far better than any Notary Public what form a PoA can take in Connecticut. If your attorney is not authorized to practice law in Connecticut, please seek legal advice from an attorney who is admitted to the Connecticut bar.
"How many witnesses do I need?"
Connecticut law requires two witnesses. Your form may have place for more! I will not be one of those witnesses. I will not find witnesses for you.
The single biggest problem that I have had with appointments to notarize PoA signatures is that people have not arranged for the required witnesses to be present.
It is the responsibility of the person granting the Power of Attorney (or someone acting on their behalf) to have two witnesses ready to see the PoA signed. Both of the two witnesses must be physically present at the time the PoA is signed; they must sign and print their names on the PoA.
No person who is receiving power can be a witness.
The witnesses do not need to know either the person granting the power or the person receiving the power. It is best if neither of the witnesses is related to the person receiving the power.
"Does the person giving the power need identification?"
The identification process is covered below. Lack of identification is the second most frequent problem I have encountered.
Please discuss identification with your Notary Public when you make your appointment.
"Does the person receiving the power need to be there?"
No; Connecticut law does not require the person receiving the Power of Attorney to be present when the PoA is signed.
Think of this situation: A grandmother in Backus Hospital in Norwich, Connecticut needed two of her granddaughters to clean out her apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and do the necessary paperwork. If the granddaughters had had to be physically present, they would have had to get on a train, travel to New London, get a taxi to Norwich, be present while I notarized their grandmother's signature, get a taxi to New London, and ride the train back to Philly. As it was, FedEx got the PoA to the granddaughters the next morning for far, far less money. And the apartment got vacated sooner.
"How much does a Power of Attorney cost in Connecticut?"
Connecticut law sets the fees that Notaries Public are allowed to charge for notarizations. As of now (April, 2016), the fee for a notarization is $5.00 plus travel. The fee for travel depends on the distance, of course.
If you have an attorney draw up your PoA for you, you can expect to pay the attorney. I have no idea what an attorney would charge. Sorry.
"Does the Notary Public have to be present when the witnesses sign the Power of Attorney?"
In my layman's opinion, absolutely! Everyone who signs the Power of Attorney form, whether they are the person granting the powers, notarizing that person's signature, or the witnessing the signature, must be physically present at the same time in the same place.
It is my policy to be there from before the first signature until after the last signature. That way there can be no question about the PoA having been properly signed and witnessed. (If you are a Connecticut attorney, you know the Connecticut law and you might convince me that the law does not require me to be there at the same time as the witnesses.)
"Who can notarize a Connecticut Power of Attorney?" "Who needs to take acknowledgement of a Power of Attorney in Connecticut?"
A Notary Public, an attorney admitted to the Connecticut bar, and a Justice of the Peace are the people who most often notarize. Justices of the Peace do not have the training of an attorney, nor do they have an official seal. Most Justices of the Peace are not comfortable doing notarizations, and I can't blame them. Passing the Notary Public exam is far more difficult than being appointed a JP!
For a full list of the offices / titles of people who are allowed to notarize in Connecticut, please consult the Notary Public Handbook or a Connecticut attorney.
"Does a Connecticut Power of Attorney have to have a seal?"
Connecticut law does not require an embossed seal on a PoA. Connecticut law does not require every Notary Public to have an embossing seal. A professional Connecticut Notary Public invests in an embossing seal because people expect to see an embossed seal near a notarized signature.
Connecticut Notaries Public do not notarize documents. We notarize signatures. What makes a signature on a document notarized is the presence of the Notary Public's written signature and the date of the Notary's commission expiration. The Notary's name and date of commission may be stamped in ink near the Notary's signature, or they may be printed by hand. Connecticut law does not require a Notary to use an ink stamp.
If a Notary Public uses an embossing seal and / or an ink stamp, the format must match that set forth in the Notary Public Handbook.
"Can a Connecticut Notary Public notarize their own Power of Attorney document?"
No. Absolutely not.
"Can a Connecticut Notary Public certify a copy of a Power of Attorney?"
Please have your Notary Public check the current Notary Public Manual. The Manual was changed, relatively recently, and may have been changed again.
Previously Notaries Public in Connecticut were not allowed to certify copies of any document. The older Notary Public Manual did specify a way for a Notary to handle that kind of situation legally, however. The only way to be sure is to check the exact wording of a current Notary Public Manual.
"Can a Connecticut Notary Public refuse to notarize a Power of Attorney?"
Yes, a Notary can refuse to notarize the signature of a Power of Attorney signer, but only for a limited list of very specific reasons.
"My employer won't let me." is not a legally-valid reason. Connecticut law trumps company policy, every time.
"Can a Connecticut Notary Public notarize a New York Power of Attorney form?"
A Connecticut Notary Public can notarize the signature on any document that Connecticut law permits, as long as the Notary and the signer are together in Connecticut. That would include a PoA from New York.
A Connecticut Notary Public cannot notarize outside of the borders of Connecticut, unless that Notary is also commissioned in the state where the signing would take place.
"Does a Connecticut Power of Attorney from a couple (i.e., two people) need to be on two separate forms?"
Information for the person granting the Power of Attorney
No Notary Public may tell you whether you should or should not grant Power of Attorney to anyone. Nor may any Notary tell you who should receive the power. At best, either those acts would be Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Notary's only job is to be sure that you are who you claim to be, that you are mentally competent in our layman's opinion, that you understand what you are doing, and that nobody is forcing you to do something you don't want to do as far as the Notary can determine.
Proving who you are.
In order to notarize your signature, the Notary Public will have to see your photo identification issued by a state or federal government. The ID must not have expired. The identification must be an original document, not a photocopy. The most common forms of ID are drivers' licenses and passports. You do not have to be a United States citizen to have your signature notarized in Connecticut. In addition to your photo ID, the notary will need to see another form of ID issued by an institution; the second form of ID must contain your signature, but it does not need to have a photograph. The most common secondary forms of ID are signed credit cards and debit cards. (I do not want to copy your card numbers!)
It may be possible to notarize your signature if you do not have the required identification. Connecticut law provides only two other, very limited ways. If you do not have the required two forms of identification, please talk to your Notary Public before you make an appointment. You can see more about acceptable forms of identification on the Frequently Asked Questions Page.
There are kinder, gentler ways to put it, but here's the simplest: You must be in your right mind.
Like most Notaries Public, I am not a mental health professional. You and I will have a brief chat, very informally. Please don't worry; we'll be just two adults having a pleasant conversation. I won't invade your privacy, or ask you personal questions that would embarrass you (or me). You can take your time; there will be no pressure from me, as long as you're trying to talk (or communicate in another way that I can understand.) Nobody else will be allowed to answer my questions for you or give you any hints. Nobody will know in advance what I'll ask, probably not even me. The goal is to be sure that you are alert, oriented in time and space, and understand what you are signing.
If you take medication that might slow down your thinking, please make your appointment for a time at which you will be fully alert.
Your Notary Public must be sure that nobody is forcing you to do anything that is against your will.
At the first sign of physical or verbal attempts by anyone to make you sign when you do not want to do so, I will leave and contact the police immediately. Intimidation and threatening are forms of abuse. Elder abuse is a serious crime.
There have been times when a person has changed her mind and decided that she didn't want to grant Power of Attorney. If that is your decision, I will not get upset with you! Just because I'm there it doesn't mean that you have to sign. You're not inconveniencing me. You are always the person in control.
Other questions that have been asked by people who were considering granting Power of Attorney.
"Can I take back the power?" "Can I revoke the Power of Attorney I gave somebody?"
Yes! This can be a very tricky area that needs an attorney's expertise. Do not take advice from a Notary Public!
There is a form that you may use if you not longer want a Power of Attorney to be used. However, having the form revoking the Power of Attorney notarized and getting your original, notarized Power of Attorney document back may be only your first steps. Please consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut.
"What questions do you ask before / when notarizing a Power of Attorney?"
I'll ask for identification. I'll ask a few basic, easy questions to attempt to determine whether the potential signer is mentally competent and understands what they are about to sign.
I will never reveal exactly what questions I will ask a specific person. That would defeat the purpose of asking. Most of the time I tailor the questions to the person, based on our other conversation. "Who was Dorothy Brown?" may get a "Who?" from the same people who would immediately answer the question "Where did Eloise Rogers work?" correctly.
"Do you keep a copy of my Power of Attorney?"
No. I never keep any documents.
Questions that I've been asked but can't answer
This list should be longer, but I can't remember all of the questions! Please feel free to ask your own questions.
"Can I use a Power of Attorney to grant somebody else the same powers that I've been granted?"
Sorry, I have no clue. But I suspect not. You'll have to ask an attorney.
"Does a Massachusetts Power of Attorney have to be notarized?"
Sorry; I don't know about any states other than Connecticut. But, logically, I would guess it does.
Please ask an attorney authorized to practice law in Massachusetts.
"Can a Power of Attorney that was notarized in Connecticut be used in Utah?"
Probably. All of the states in the United States accept each other's notarizations. But I definitely would ask an attorney authorized to practice law in Utah.
States other than Connecticut may have different witness requirements, for example. I've seen one form that required three witnesses, rather than just the two required by Connecticut law.
"Why does a Power of Attorney form have to be in writing in Connecticut?"
This one stumped me. What else would you do? Take a video of it? Have the Notary Public go to the bank and swear that you'd been given the power to take out money? I don't think any sensible person would accept either of those. But I could be wrong. Just don't ask me to go to the bank with you if you try!
(And before you ask, no; a Connecticut Notary Public can't notarize the contents of a video.)
"Can you show me an example of a Connecticut Power of Attorney signature?"
"Can a Connecticut state agency require an original Power of Attorney?"
Interesting question. I wish I knew. Sorry.
Information for the person or people receiving the Power of Attorney
An attorney might advise you that an institution such as a bank might accept only the original Power of Attorney document. Banks tend to be very cautious. Please remember that neither I nor any other Notary Public who is not an attorney can give you legal advice!
If you lose the original PoA, you may have to get another PoA signed and notarized. If the person who originally granted powers to you is no longer mentally competent, then you are in for a judicial process, which could take quite some time. You will definitely need an attorney's help! Possibly the local Judge of Probate will help you.
Some people may accept a photocopy of a PoA. Part of whether they will or won't may depend on the exact wording of the PoA, and part on the institution's policy. If I were the person who had received the power, I would not count on anybody accepting anything except the original document. If you choose to fight to have a bank accept a copy of a PoA, then I wish you luck. The banks' attorneys (and you can be sure that it will be plural) know the law very well; you will need an attorney of your own.
If an official of any bank or other institution at which you wish to use the Power of Attorney wants to make a photocopy for the institution's own records, I suggest that you permit the photocopy to be made and insist on getting the original document back. Again, not legal advice, just common sense.
If I were dealing with a firm from outside of Connecticut, such as a mortgage company based in California, I would be very sure that the firm knew that I would be signing documents on behalf of the person who had granted me the power to be their legal representative, and I would be sure that the firm had received a copy of the PoA before they drew up the paperwork.
Because I am a Notary Signing Agent who notarizes signatures on loan documents, I know that some loans have fallen through because the lender did not know in advance that one of the borrowers was going to have another person sign on his behalf, using a Power of Attorney. If I were at a loan closing and someone wanted to use a Power of Attorney to sign as one of the borrowers, everything would stop until I had received permission from the lender to proceed.
When you sign any document using the powers granted to you via a Power of Attorney, you must use the correct legal wording. The person or institution which provides the document will most likely have the correct wording for you to use. Don't guess!
It goes nearly unsaid that you will have to provide identification that matches the name of the person who has been granted power through a PoA. If you were granted power under your birth name and your driver's license has your married name, for example, expect some difficulty. (Saying "expect some difficulty" is a kind way of saying "plan on a whole lot of difficulty".)
Information for the people where the Power of Attorney will be used
Your firm's attorney might advise you to accept only an original Power of Attorney document, not a photocopy. Your firm's attorney might advise you to make a photocopy of the original Power of Attorney document and keep the copy on file. Please check your institution's policies. Please remember that neither I nor any other Notary Public who is not an attorney can give you legal advice!
Will you be requiring at least one form of identification (with a photo, presumably) from the person who presents the PoA, following your firm's policies? That's what I would expect if I were presenting a PoA so that I could legally sign for someone else. Does your firm require that you photocopy the identification and file a copy?
Connecticut law prohibits a Notary Public from accepting as identification a driver's license in a lady's previous name plus a certified copy of her marriage license. What is your firm's policy?
A professional Connecticut Notary Public will have invested in an embossing seal because most people expect to see an embossed seal on a PoA. Connecticut law does not require a Notary to use an embossing seal. Nor does Connecticut law require a Notary to use an ink stamp. What makes a signature on a PoA notarized is the presence of the Notary Public's written signature and the date of the Notary's commission expiration.
What wording does your institution use for a person who signs using a PoA? If you do not know, please consult your firm's attorney. Please do not guess!