Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Attesting General Power of Attorney in SF

Recently I had to go through the motions of getting a General Power of Attorney (GPA) document attested in San Francisco. I am an Indian by birth. My parents were trying to buy a house back in India for me. Since I did not want to travel to India they needed a GPA so that they can act on my behalf to sign all the documents required to buy the house. The problem however is that they needed it urgently because the seller lives in UK and wants to get all the things done quickly so he can go back.

My parents send me a GPA document that they obtained from a lawyer. This is a document that will give the power to my parents to buy the said property in the document on my behalf. The lawyer said that I will have to get the document attested at an Indian Consulate in USA. The closest one for me is in SF and I can drive there in about an hour from where I live. So I though it will be like a day's work to get all the things done.

I looked up at their website for the procedure to attest GPA. I found the page I was looking for and the process seems simple enough. These are the things I need:

  • Complete Miscellaneous Services Application
  • Attach all previous passports in original
  • Photo copies of first 5 and last 2 pages of current passport
  • Current passport
  • Photo copy of a valid visa
  • Proof of status: original green card/visa/EAD. For me it is a valid visa
  • Proof of residence: Drivers License/Electricity/Water/Telephone bills/lease agreement. For me it is driver's license.
  • Photo copies of proof of status and proof of residence above
  • Original apostilled Power of Attorney to be attested
  • Photo copy of apostilled Power of Attorney document
  • Paste a photo in Miscellaneous Services Application
  • Paste a photo on Power of Attorney document
  • Sign Miscellaneous document
  • Pay $20 for fees using money order / cachier's check or debit card ($3 extra). Debit card for me

I got everything right except for apostilling the document. I got myself photographed. Pasted one in the GPA and another on the application and drove for more than an hour in traffic to reach the SF indian consulate only to find that I need to get the GPA apostilled. I did not know what it was and how it was supposed to be done. So I just skipped the step and went to the consulate. After standing in line for an hour the lady at the counter was kind enough to walk me through the whole process. She told me that first I should get the GPA notarized by a notary public after signing the document in front of the notary. Then I should send the GPA along with self addressed envelope to Secretary of State, California to get the document apostilled. Once they send the document back to me I will have to bring the documents to Indian consulate for attestation.

If I send the documents via mail to Secretary of State in Sacremento, it will be too late for me to send them to India. So I called up Secretary of State, CA to ask how long it will take if I walked in. By the way you can find all the details at http://sos.ca.gov. Contact phone for notary public is here. The lady on the phone said that by mail the turn around time is 1 day exclusive of the mail service time. And if I walked in it will be over in about 15 minutes. They just require the notarized document.

Great. That is easy. But there is just one thing. I wanted to finish all this in one day. So I had some planning to do. First it takes 2 hours to drive to Sacremento from where I live. And another 2 hours from Sacremento to SF where I will get the final attestation. The consulate closes at 12 pm. While the Secretary of State opens at 8 am.

The next day I started at 6am and drove to Sacremento. It was exactly 8am by the time I was in the Secretary of State. Finding the notary public office was easy and I got the document apostilled in about 15 minutes. Then I started off to SF for another 2 hour drive. I got the apostilled document photo copied at an office max in SF. It was 10:30am before I stepped into the consulate. At this point it was just a matter of time. I was in the line for an hour and then everything flew by quickly. She took the documents and the payment and asked me to return at 4pm to pick up the documents. I drove to work at 12pm and returned back to SF at 4pm. Everything was ready for me. Took the attested documents, drove back to work and then home late in the night.

Two days and 450 miles later I have all things done! That one day was tiring with 350 miles logged. End of the day the whole process is not that complicated. I was lucky to be close to Sacremento and SF. But for others who are not so lucky it will take more time. So please make sure you have enough time.
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