A power of attorney is a legal document which gives authority to another person (known as the attorney) to make certain financial decisions and sign certain documents on behalf of the donor. Powers of attorney can grant extremely wide and discretionary powers to the attorney. Quality and experienced advice from a Probate Lawyer or Estate Solicitor is crucial if you intend to grant a power of attorney or are asked to act as an attorney.
There are several kinds of powers of attorney; they share the same main features but are used for different purposes. The powers may be limited to just a short period of time or to just certain affairs or they may be enduring or irrevocable and remain in effect after the appointer lacks mental capacity. The main advantage of a power of attorney is that the donor’s affairs will be managed by the attorney if the donor is unable to administer them personally, such as if the donor goes overseas, becomes ill or becomes mentally incapacitated.
In some circumstances, the power of attorney will need to be registered with the Land and Property Information Department in order to be valid.
There are a number of important features of powers of attorney, including the following:
- Decisions of the attorney when acting on behalf of the appointer are taken to be decisions of the appointer (although there are circumstances where this is not the case, for example where the attorney acts outside their powers)
- The appointer must have the appropriate mental capacity to grant the power of attorney
- The donor must be at least 18 years of age