It’s important to have access to the originals of your power of attorney documents, because a photocopy sometimes won’t be accepted.
Sometimes an attorney keeps the originals, and sometimes the client keeps them. Both are good ideas. But either way, make sure you can access them when you need them. If you keep them yourself, put them in a safe place. And if your attorney keeps them, be sure you leave enough time to obtain them if you’ll need them for a transaction.
This issue came up recently when Latonya Bartholomew signed a power of attorney. She was deploying overseas with the Air Force, and wanted her husband Lyndon to be able to manage their affairs back home in Kentucky. Later, Lyndon refinanced the couple’s mortgage. But when it came time to record the new mortgage with the county, the clerk’s office refused to do so – because Lyndon couldn’t find the original notarized power of attorney, and only had a photocopy.
Lyndon explained that it would be very difficult to get a new power of attorney document when his wife was serving overseas, but the clerk’s office wouldn’t bend.
Lyndon eventually sued the county, claiming that he suffered damages because he couldn’t refinance or sell the property. But a federal appeals court said the county was within its rights, and Lyndon was out of luck.