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Understanding power of attorney
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document by which one person gives to another person the power or authority to perform certain acts on his or her behalf. The person giving the power is called the ‘donor’ and the person appointed is called the ‘attorney’ or ‘donee’. The acts of the donee bind the donor within the scope of the power given.
The main purpose of a Power of Attorney is to allow someone to carry on your business affairs when you are unable to do so. For example, when someone has to go overseas and wants someone to take care of their business or transactions here, he or she may create a Power of Attorney for this purpose. Also, a person who is physically incapable of carrying out his or her duties or affairs may create a Power of Attorney for carrying out his general affairs or for particular matters.
General Power of Attorney
A general Power of Attorney may be created for the purpose of managing the general affairs of the donor and can include many things such as withdrawing and depositing money from a bank account belonging to the donor, paying bills and receiving money due to the donor. A general Power of Attorney may also be created for the donee to deal with land belonging to the donor.
Special Power of Attorney
A special Power of Attorney may be created to give the donee the limited authority to deal with a specific affair or matter of the donor eg to allow the donee to convey land or accept a conveyance of land on behalf of the donor.
A Power of Attorney must contain, among other things:
The name and particulars of the donor;
The nature of the donor’s interest in the land (if the power relates to land);
The extent of the authority which the donor is giving; and
The identity of the donee.
It must be registered in the Land Registry and must be:
• signed by the donor and witnessed by at least one witness giving his or her name, address and occupation;
• executed by a lawyer (the lawyer explains, signs it and the parties and witnesses do so in the attorney’s presence);
A Power of Attorney done abroad cannot simply be used here without first being registered.
A Power of Attorney may be revoked or cancelled on the death, unsoundness or bankruptcy of the donor. This may be done by a Deed registered and stated to revoke the Power of Attorney or by an entry in writing made by the Registrar General on the registered document in her office.
You should consult with a lawyer before making a Power of Attorney since you must be careful about which powers you are giving to another person, the circumstances in which you give that power, and for how long. Ensure that you read the Power of Attorney carefully and that its terms are explained to you.
• This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser. Co-ordinator: Roshan Ramcharitar