Power of Attorney for Real Estate

Power of Attorney for Real Estate

A power of attorney for real estate is a simple legal document that allows you to give someone the authority to buy or sell real estate for you, or to conduct any other business involving real estate that you own. Use this form if:

  • you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable when important real-estate documents need to be signed
  • you will not be available to look after your real estate for a period of time
  • you live far away from property that you own and you want someone else to manage it in your absence

Note: Do not use this form if you live in Louisiana, New York, or Pennsylvania, or if you want to create a durable power of attorney.

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A power of attorney for real estate is a simple legal document that allows you to give someone the authority to buy or sell real estate for you, or to conduct any other business involving real estate that you own.

You may need to grant a trusted business associate, friend or relative a power of attorney for real estate in a number of situations:

  • you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable when important real-estate documents need to be signed
  • you will not be available to look after your real estate for a period of time
  • you live far away from property that you own and you want someone else to manage it in your absence

This indispensable form contains everything you need to make a valid power of attorney for real estate. Use it to place your real estate transactions securely in the hands of someone you trust -- and then rest a little easier.

Are you a New York resident? Check out our New York Powers of Attorney for Real Estate

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FAQs

What Is a Power of Attorney for Real Estate?

A power of attorney for real estate is a useful, but limited, legal document. It allows you to give someone the authority to buy or sell real estate for you, or to conduct any other business concerning real estate that you own. The person you name to represent you is called your "attorney-in-fact." Any trusted person with common sense can do the job.

This power of attorney for real estate is a "conventional" power of attorney, meaning that it automatically expires if you become incapacitated or die. If you want a document that will stay in effect even if you become incapacitated, you need what's called a "durable" power of attorney. (You can make a durable power of attorney using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker Plus software, available at www.nolo.com.)

In some states, your attorney-in-fact may also be called your "agent." The two terms mean the same thing. So even in states that also use the term "agent," this form -- which uses the term "attorney-in-fact" -- will be understood and accepted.

When to Use a Power of Attorney for Real Estate

A power of attorney for real estate may be useful in a number of situations. Here are a few common ones:

  • you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable when important real estate documents need to be signed
  • you will not be available to look after your real estate for a limited period of time, or
  • you live far away from property that you own and you want to authorize someone to manage it in your absence.

If you know that you need an attorney-in-fact for real estate transactions and nothing else, it makes good sense to use a limited real estate power rather than a general power of attorney that encompasses real estate transactions. Even though a general power of attorney is just as legal, you don't need most of the language it contains. It's not wise to clutter your document with lots of unnecessary legal language and a list of powers that you don't want to grant.

This power of attorney for real estate is a short, straightforward document that allows you to clearly describe the powers and the property at issue -- something that most financial institutions will want to see. Mortgage lenders and title companies are likely to be much more comfortable accepting a document that's narrowly tailored to your purposes.

Who Can Prepare a Power of Attorney for Real Estate?

In most states, you can create a valid power of attorney if you are at least 18 years old and of sound mind. (In Alabama, you must be at least 19 years old. In Nebraska, you must be at least 19 or married.) If you are using this online form, you can consider yourself of sound mind.

Do not use this form in New York or Pennsylvania -- those states require additional state-specific text.

How Much Will It Cost?

Making a power of attorney for real estate shouldn't set you back more than the price of this form and a few dollars for having your document notarized and recorded in your local land records office. (Notarization and recording are required to make your document legal; you will learn more about these requirements in the Signing Instructions that print with your form.)

Occasionally, however, you may encounter costs as your attorney-in-fact carries out tasks under your power of attorney. Here are a couple of common examples:

  • Attorney-in-fact's payment. The power of attorney document doesn't require that you pay your attorney-in-fact, but you may wish to do so. If so, you and your attorney-in-fact should decide on an amount that's fair, and write up a separate agreement.
  • Experts' fees. If complications crop up during a real estate transaction, your attorney-in-fact may need to hire someone -- a lawyer, for example -- to help out. Your attorney-in-fact is allowed to seek whatever assistance is reasonably necessary under the circumstances, and you'll be required to pay for it.

Making Sure Your Power of Attorney Is Accepted

Powers of attorney are common, and financial institutions are used to them. Your attorney-in-fact, armed with a properly executed power of attorney document, should have no problem getting people to accept his or her authority. The most important thing you can do to ensure that financial institutions, such as your mortgage lender or title company, will accept your power of attorney is talk with them before you sign your document. Be sure that they're willing to accept the document and the authority of your attorney-in-fact. Your financial institution may ask you to include certain language in your form or even to use its own power of attorney form. If so, you should comply with its wishes. (If you're working with more than one financial institution, you may end up using more than one form.) Following your financial institution's recommendations will save time and trouble for you and your attorney-in-fact.

When Your Power of Attorney Begins and Ends

Your power of attorney for real estate takes effect on a date you specify in your document. It ends when you revoke it in writing, or on the date that you specify in the power of attorney document. In addition, the document will end automatically in some circumstances, such as:

  • Revocation. You can revoke your power of attorney for real estate at any time, as long as you are of sound mind. (And if you aren't of sound mind, the document terminates automatically, so you don't have to worry about revoking it.) To revoke your document, all you need to do is fill out a simple revocation form (available on www.nolo.com), sign it in front of a notary public, and give copies to the attorney-in-fact and to people or institutions with whom the attorney-in-fact has been dealing.
  • Divorce. In a number of states, if your spouse is your attorney-in-fact and you divorce, your ex-spouse's authority is immediately terminated. Regardless of state law, however, if you've named your spouse as attorney-in-fact and you get divorced, you should revoke your power of attorney and make a new one.
  • No attorney-in-fact is available. Your power of attorney will automatically end if your attorney-in-fact dies, resigns, or becomes unable to represent you for any other reason.
  • If you become incapacitated or die. Your power of attorney for real estate will automatically end if you become incapacitated or die. In most states, however, if the attorney-in-fact doesn't know of your incapacity or death and continues to act on your behalf, his or her actions are still valid.

The Attorney-in-Fact's Authority

This power of attorney for real estate form can give your attorney-in-fact the authority to act for you in all matters concerning real estate, including the following:

  • buying or leasing real estate,
  • selling, mortgaging, partitioning, or leasing real estate,
  • paying your mortgage and taxes (with your assets),
  • arranging for necessary repairs and maintenance,
  • refinancing your mortgage to get a better interest rate,
  • paying off liens (legal claims) on your property,
  • buying insurance for your property,
  • building, remodeling, or removing structures on your property,
  • granting easements over your property, and
  • bringing or defending lawsuits over real estate.

Your attorney-in-fact always has a legal obligation to take only those actions that are in your best interests, and to represent you honestly and carefully.

In your power of attorney document, you may limit the powers listed above in any way you choose. For example, if you are creating a power of attorney to give your attorney-in-fact the power to manage real estate for you, you can state in the document that your attorney in fact is not allowed, under any circumstances, to sell or mortgage the property.

You may also add additional powers to your document, if they are related to real estate matters. For example, your attorney-in-fact may need access to your bank account to pay the costs of managing your property or handling a real estate deal. Grant that access in your document and specify the bank account from which your attorney-in-fact may withdraw funds.

Example: I further grant to my attorney-in-fact full authority to act in any manner both proper and necessary to the exercise of the foregoing powers, including withdrawing funds from my checking account, #4482 478 880, Hudson Valley Savings and Loan, Booneville, PA, and I ratify every act that my attorney-in-fact may lawfully perform in exercising those powers.

Get legal help if you need it. A power of attorney can transfer tremendous authority. Even though you can revoke it at any time (as long as you are mentally competent), never create a power of attorney unless you thoroughly understand the authority you plan to transfer. If you have questions, see an expert.

Witnesses

Some states require you to sign your power of attorney in front of a witness or two. If you have witnesses sign your document, you and the witnesses must appear together in front of the notary public. The notary will watch each of you sign and will then complete and attach an acknowledgment certificate, including a notarial seal.

You can find each state's rule in the included signing instructions. If your state law doesn't require witnessing, you may still choose to have your document witnessed.

If You Need Legal Advice

Accurate, plain-English legal information can help many people create useful legal documents. But general information is never a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want professional advice about the best way to craft or use legal documents in your particular circumstances, consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

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