Pennsylvania Powers of Attorney Update

Pennsylvania has enacted broad changes to the laws governing Powers of Attorneys (“POA”) for financial and property transactions. Below is a brief overview of some of the changes effective January 1, 2015.

For POAs executed on or after January 1, 2015:

A POA may be signed by another person on behalf of the principal only if the principal is unable to sign and specifically directs the other individual to sign.

  • The signature or mark of the principal must be acknowledged before a notary public or other individual authorized to take acknowledgments.
  • All POAs must be witnessed by two individuals neither of whom is the agent, or an individual who signed the POA on behalf of and at the direction of the principal, or the notary or other person authorized to take acknowledgments before whom the POA is acknowledged.
  • The Notice that the principal is required to sign is modified. Language is added to warn that the document may grant the agent the power to give away the principal’s property or change how the property is distributed at death. The principal is advised to seek the advice of an attorney at law before signing the POA.
  • The acknowledgment form that the agent signs is revised to specify that the agent must act in accordance with the principal’s reasonable expectations to the extent that the agent actually knows them and, otherwise, in the principal’s best interest. The form notes that the agent must act in good faith and only within the scope of authority granted to the agent by the principal in the power of attorney.

The amendments also expand the immunities provided for good faith acceptance of powers of attorney without knowledge of deficiencies in the powers or in the exercise of an agent’s authority; expand on the duties of an agent; clarify the actions a third party may and may not take when presented with instructions by an agent acting under a power of attorney; provide more specific standards to determine when a person presented with instructions by an agent is not required to accept a power of attorney; and better define the scope of liability of a person wrongfully refusing to comply with the instructions of an agent.

If you have any further questions or would like for us to review your current Powers of Attorney for compliance, please email Amanda Smith ( or Jennifer Winston ( or call Messick & Lauer at (610) 891-9000