Healthcare powers of attorney are critical documents for signers, and state rules vary greatly regarding how the document must be signed, witnessed or notarized. A healthcare power of attorney allows a person (known as the “principal”) to authorize another individual (sometimes called an “agent”) to make health care decisions on the principal’s behalf if the principal is unable to do so.
Many — but not all — states require healthcare powers of attorney to be notarized. Some require the document to be signed in the presence of one or more witnesses instead. Washington state’s Department of Health recommends having a healthcare power of attorney document notarized even if not required by law, because notarization will help ensure the document is honored if the signer is incapacitated while traveling in another state. “Witnessing and/or notarization are also important as evidence to help confirm that you are competent,” according to the Washington Web site.
If you are asked to notarize a healthcare power of attorney, check with your Notary-regulating office, the Attorney General’s office or Department of Health for any specific document signing restrictions. For example, Arizona requires durable healthcare powers of attorney to be signed in the presence of at least one adult witness or Notary Public who is 18 or older. Arizona also prohibits using a witness or Notary who is related to the signer, involved in providing the signer’s health care, or who would be appointed as the signer’s representative or entitled to any part of signer’s estate. Ohio has similar provisions, prohibiting attending physicians or nursing home administrators from witnessing a power of attorney.