1. List at least four successor choices for your Agent and choose persons of different ages.
2. Sign all originals in blue ink.
3. Sign extra originals at the time of signing (minimum of four) as originals may be required for different purposes and you’ll have them available.
4. If possible, gather all persons who will sign the document at the same time at one location and have all signatures notarized at the same time by the same notary.
5. Videotape** the signing and notarizing of the document.
6. Have each page of the document initialed, stamped and notarized rather than just the customary final page so pages can’t be switched-out.
7. Make sure the final document is formatted and spaced so each page ends somewhere in the middle of a sentence and it’s obvious the first word of the next page finishes (or continues) the sentence. (NOTE: The total number of pages of the completed document in its entirety should be listed as the last line of the final page of the document, ie: “page three of three pages”).
8. “Renew” your Power of Attorney from time to time, especially if you are not an elderly person at the time this document is executed. (This reinforces to the court that you have not changed your mind over the years and just failed to update your Power of Attorney.)
9. Consider that although not a requirement, generally a Power of Attorney carries more weight in court if a licensed attorney has looked over the final document and signed it.
One of the best pieces of practical advice we can give you is to instruct your Agent that should you have to go to the hospital, a copy of the DPoA is posted in your hospital room in plain view so staff is fully aware who is making decisions and who must be consulted on any and all issues. NASGA likes to to say, “wallpaper the hospital room” with the DPoA … you get the idea!
And this is very important – perhaps one of the most important things you can do to help protect your child……Although we don’t like to think about it, many young adults get into accidents and problems arise because this person is of legal age but has not executed Advance Directives, which means the parents don’t automatically have decision-making power.
NASGA strongly suggests that your child’s 18th birthday is the day he/she should execute his/her first Power of Attorney, most often naming you the parent(s) as Agent(s). This will give him/her additional protection should the worst occur; and it will give you peace of mind as well.
*”Durable” means the Power of Attorney is in effect should you become incompetent. Some states use the term, “springing.”
**Videotaping the signing of any legal document provides evidence as to the competency of the signer at the time of execution should the validity of the document be challenged at a later date. Making note right in the document that the video was made (and who has it) will help make sure the video isn’t overlooked if the DPoA is contested.