Motor vehicle title regulations vary in each State and the rules can be complicated by a Notary requirement for title transfers. Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation (PennDOT) requires that all vehicle title transfers must be completed by an Authorized Online Messenger like 309 Auto Tags, a motor vehicle dealer or any other authorized tag agent. The tag Agent/Notary completes the paperwork and verifies the identity of signer(s) of vehicle, watercraft, ATV and snowmobile title documents (service fees apply). There are times when a vehicle owner is not available to sign in the presence of the Notary Tag Agent at the actual time of transfer and that is where a Power of Attorney can be warranted.
There are 3 types of Power of Attorney (POA) that are used in connection with vehicle title transfers in Pennsylvania:
1) Secure Power of Attorney
2) General Power of Attorney (includes General Durable and Springing POA)
3) Third Party Limited Power of Attorney
Car dealers and insurance companies often use a Secure Power of Attorney to sign on behalf of vehicle owners. A General Durable Power of Attorney is used to grant power to another person (the Appointee) to conduct all financial affairs including vehicle title transfers. The General Power of attorney will continue in effect even if the person who granted the power (the Grantor) becomes incapacitated. The other type of General Power of Attorney, the Springing Durable Power of Attorney goes into effect only when the Grantor becomes incapacitated. The Grantor remains in full control until such time as the Grantor is unable to handle their affairs. Lastly, and most often used for private party vehicle title transfers is the Third Party (Limited) Power of Attorney.
The Limited Power of Attorney appoints another (third party appointee) to sign on behalf of the named owner(s) and is valid for up to 90 days. The POA is limited in that it grants the Appointee specific powers and needs to be prepared in advance of the title transfer. The POA must name all parties, specify the vehicle year, make, model and vehicle identification number and when properly completed gives the vehicle Grantor/seller the ability to give another trusted person the authorization to complete vehicle transfer documents in place of the owner(s) named on the title.
All types of Power of Attorneys must be properly notarized and are active only during a Grantor’s lifetime and automatically cease at the Grantor’s death.