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Q&A Series: The Power of Attorney Form Asks for Two Witnesses---Who Should They Be?

Below is a recent question I answered on

Consumer Question:

The POA form asks for two witnesses to be present who should they be?

In Wisconsin the poa forms ask for two witnesses at the time of signing the document can this be any layman?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton Response:

I think your question may be referring to the Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care document. That form requires two witnesses. The Wisconsin statutory Power of Attorney for Finances form includes a line for the document to be signed in front of a Notary. If you are referring to the Power of Attorney for Health Care document, then the witnesses need to be two people of sound mind over the age of 18, and not related to you by blood, marriage, domestic partnership or adoption and not directly responsible for the principal's (the person making the document) health care. The witnesses also must not be a health care provider who is serving the principal at the time the document is made, or an employee of a health care provider, other than a chaplain or a social worker, or an employee, other than a chaplain or a social worker, of an inpatient health care facility of which the declarant is a patient.

You can find the entire language here on page 5 of the Power of Attorney for Health Care Form:

Basically, to sum up the witness requirements, find someone over the age of 18 who is not related to you, and who is not a healthcare provider or an employee of a healthcare provider to witness the document. For this reasons, it is best to complete this Power of Attorney for Health Care form before you are in the hospital in need of medical care. If you have to sign the document while you are a patient inside of a health care facility, and you cannot find any outside witnesses to bring in to witness you signing the document, then seek to use a chaplain or a social worker as witnesses, as they are the only two exceptions under the statute who may witness the document. I recommend you consult with a qualified estate planning attorney for assistance completing these documents.

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. You should seek a consultation with a licensed attorney in your area if you seek a complete review and discussion of your situation.

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