Catherine Castiglia Canino, Esq.
New York State Counsel
The Security Title Guarantee Corporation of Baltimore
Powers of Attorney are instruments intended to allow an agent to act on behalf and in the place of a principal. Commonly, a statutory short form power of attorney is used by a principal to give powers to a selected agent or agents, to act on the principal’s behalf. The statutory short form of power of attorney found in GOL 5-1503 provides a convenient form for principals to delegate specific, but broadly labeled powers, to their agents. New York General Obligations Law Section 5-1502A through 5-1502N details how these enumerated powers are to be interpreted, but leaves room for modification to create additional powers.
One power that is not intended by the statute is the ability to sign affidavits on behalf of the principal. An affidavit is a sworn statement made under oath with the purpose of having a document acceptable in court proceedings. As such, it must be signed by the person from whom the oath is taken. The courts have consequently denied the use of affidavits where agents submitted affidavits on behalf of the principal, executed by those agents. In a closing, title insurance companies heavily rely upon affidavits to assist in title clearance of a multitude of matters. The reason is that in the event of a claim that involves litigation, we have the “word” of the parties to rely upon in order to provide defense. Therefore, they must be complete, accurate and executed by the correct parties. Accordingly, as your real estate transactions close, inform your attorneys that any absent parties must pre-sign their affidavits in their personal capacity, so that your affidavits are not rendered invalid.