General Power of Attorney Explained
A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows an individual known as the ‘Donor’ to authorise someone else known as the ‘Attorney’ to act on the Donors behalf with regard to their property and affairs.
A General Power of Attorney automatically ends if the Donor dies or loses the mental capacity to make a decision for themselves.
If a Donor loses mental capacity whilst not having also registered a Lasting Power of Attorney an application to the court of protection would need to be made with regards to the management of the individuals property and affairs.
would need to be made with regards to the management of the individual’s property and affairs.
A Donor can revoke a General Power orally but it’s better to either void the original document or use a deed of revocation.
You may want to make a General Power of Attorney, for example, if you are planning to go overseas for some time and you want to entrust the control of property and affairs to your spouse or partner, a family member or a trusted friend. Another example would be if you were going to go into hospital for a period of time.
Once the Power is signed and witnessed the Attorney is granted legal authority to make decisions on the Donor’s behalf in relation to their property and affairs.
There are however decisions the attorney cannot make on behalf of the Donor, for example:
- An Attorney cannot sign a Donor’s Last Will & Testament on their behalf
- An Attorney cannot continue the Donor’s role as a trustee
- An Attorney cannot take action regarding aspects of the Donor’s marriage
- An Attorney cannot grant their Power to anyone else
General Power of Attorney Glossary
A Donor is a person granting the power, only one Donor may make a Power. They must be over 18 and have the mental capacity to grant the Power and not be an undischarged or interim bankrupt.
An Attorney must be aged over 18 and be of sound mind and not be an undischarged or interim bankrupt. If more than one Attorney is appointed it must be noted as to whether you wish your Attorneys to act together ‘jointly’ or Separately ‘jointly and severally‘.
it is possible to appoint a replacement Attorney or Attorneys who would act if an Attorney is unable or unwilling to act. If more than one replacement Attorney is required you need to decide on how they will act, either ‘jointly’ or ‘jointly and severally’, as explained above.
It is possible to stipulate specific restrictions upon the Powers of the Attorney, for example, you want your attorney to instruct a conveyancer to act regarding the sale of a property, deal with the sale of a Car or you only want the attorney to be granted the power for a specific time period. If the restrictions you have in mind are more complicated than these examples I would recommend seeking advice from a professional.
The Donor should sign the power in the presence of a witness. The witness should then add their full name, address, occupation and then sign. Be aware that an Attorney cannot act as a witness, aside from this there is no set rule as to who can witness a General Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney does not need countersigning by a solicitor to be effective.