We have purchased a new home that is due to close in 10 days and one of the things we put in place was power of attorney for my husband so I can sign closing documents on his behalf, because he travels a lot on business. As it turns out, he is going to be out of town leading up to the transaction. On the advice of our lawyer, we had obtained the approval of our bank which is providing us with a mortgage to allow the use of a power of attorney when we are closing the transaction. Now our lawyer is telling us that the bank’s central mortgage processing office will not accept the signature of me as the power of attorney on their documents and they require my husband attend on closing with valid identification. What to do now?

Your situation is not unique, since many people attempt to purchase homes with the use of a power of attorney. Essentially, the idea here is that one person gives legal authority for another individual to sign on their behalf for events such as the purchase of a home. In this case, you were well advised to obtain the approval of the bank for the use of the power of attorney.


The problem with this process is that often the bank officers at the branch level will indicate there is no problem using a power of attorney. However, the underwriting department (the risk assessors on your file) will not allow the use of powers of attorney. So, your clearing of the use of this document to assist you with the purchase of your new home is useless. The real source of power and approval is always the central mortgage office for your lender.


If you want to be sure of the transaction, get the approval in writing upon which you can rely if the upper powers that be decide your documents need to be signed by a relative far, far away. Otherwise, your husband is going to be boarding an expensive flight home to sign documents.


Jeffrey Cowan is the principal of Cowan Taylor & McGee and can be reached at jeff@cowanlaw.ca.