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Do you need to provide your social security number when obtaining Power of Attorney?

Kew Gardens, NY |

Do you have to provide your social security number to a lawyer when becoming Power of Attorney for someone? If so, what other documents or data must the person assuming the role of Power of Attorney provide? I've heard that banks require their own POA in addition and that they will photocopy the POA's ID and require their social. Is this necessary, legal and if so, is it wise to provide these documents considering the security of guarding one's social security number? If not, what options exist with the banks? Also, does the Principal need to provide the social security number to the lawyer preparing the POA?

Attorney Answers 2


Lawyers and financial institutions have a legal obligation to confirm the identity of the people who come to them for services. In such a case it is proper to request a photo id and your SS number. There are always people who will abuse this information, but for the most part banks and lawyers should not be that type. Furthermore, SS numbers are critical when authorizing someone to have a P of A over your finances. Without the SS#, a person with your name or similar name might abuse the power. Finally, some banks have their own P of A and prefer that the person use their form. It is always wise to confer with the institution before executing the document. It is now the law that when the document is provided to others besides the bank or lawyer that the first portion of the SS number is redacted (meaning blocked out, and the only number revealed are the last four. This has become the law now when someone disseminates your SS #. For example if I was to file a complaint in court and had an exhibit with your SS # on it (such as on a P of A) the number would be redacted for your protection. Most lawyers have had the experience of a potential client using the name and id of a close relative (for example if there is a warrant out for their arrest). I had a client whose sister was using her id in order to order large quantities of prescription medication. This is why lawyers usually confirm the id of their clients.

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Hiring a lawyer; Is it Legal? Is it Illegal?...Understanding the different court systems;
Introduction to Legal terms used in litigation; Limitations on a Lawyer’s License: What a Lawyer Can and Cannot Do……………………………..…………………………..

Estate Litigation with a will
Estate Litigation without a will

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Mr. Sarno is licensed to practice law in NJ and NY. His response here is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. Many times the questioner may leave out details

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I would always recommend consulting with local counsel, preferably a certified elder law attorney.

I don't see why a power of attorney agent would have to provide any proof to the attorney for the principal of a power of attorney. If I draft a power of attorney for Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Smith wants to name her son has her power of attorney agent, that's Mrs. Smith's business, not mine. The agent is not my client. In fact, I rarely even meet the poeple who the client is naming as agent and the agent has no obligation or duty to even serve as the agent.

The bank, on the other hand, will want proof of id if you are going to serve as the agent and that might include SS number.

Banks do frequently have their own powers of attorney, and I would recommend that the principal sign that document in addition to the general power of attorney that the lawyer prepared.

Consult local counsel.

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