What can you tell me about a power of attorney to sell real estate?

Q. What can you tell me about a power of attorney to sell real estate?

A. A document called a ‘power of attorney’ can be used to close a real estate transaction when the seller is incapable of doing so himself. The giver of the power of attorney is called the Principal. The receiver is generally called the ‘attorney in fact’ and is given the right to act on behalf of the principal, for the purposes and functions spelled out in the legal document.

There are two types of Powers of Attorney:

1. General Here, the principal authorizes the attorney in fact to take any and all actions as if the principal was taking them himself. This is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney. Some states will not permit real estate to be conveyed by a General power of attorney.

2. Specific Here, power of attorney is given for one specific purpose, which could be to close on a home and nothing else. The specific instructions are contained in the legal document, and the attorney in fact has no authority to exceed those instructions.

If you plan to sell your house, and find yourself in the situation where one party in title will not be available to sign contracts, deeds or other legal documents pertaining to the sale, it is best to have your attorney draw up a Power of Attorney that meets your needs, as well as the legal requirements in the State where your property is located.

The principal may want to put a time limitation on the Power – for example one or two months. However, with a durable power of attorney, the principal normally does not place any such limitations. The purpose of a durable Power is to assure that in the event the Principal becomes incapacitated, his attorney in fact will be able to step in without having to go to Court.

I’d be more than happy to discuss this further with you and answer any questions you may have. Just give me a call.


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