A general power of attorney authorises a person to act on your behalf in limited circumstances. The scope of this authority and the duration of its effect depend on the terms of the power.
For example, you could grant a general power of attorney to:
- sell your house for a specific figure;
- operate your bank account;
- give someone control of all your business affairs; or
- act on your behalf while you are overseas or in hospital.
A general power of attorney can specify when and in what circumstances it will operate, and will cease on completion of those circumstances (e.g. the sale of a house) or when the donor withdraws it, preferably in writing.
A general power of attorney ceases immediately when a donor dies, becomes bankrupt or becomes mentally or physically incapable of running their affairs.
A power of attorney needs to be in writing and made by a person over 18 years of age who is able to understand the nature of the power of attorney.
Documents signed by your attorney on your behalf will include a note stating they sign in their capacity as your power of attorney.
The attorney must keep accurate records of all dealings and transactions made pursuant to the power of attorney.
Powers of attorney should be kept in a safe place such as a lawyer's office or a bank. You and your attorney should keep copies of your power of attorney.