We are often asked to witness, and attest to, the execution of, Powers of Attorney for use overseas.
So what is a Power of Attorney?
According to our trusty (and somewhat ancient) legal dictionary, a Power of Attorney is “a formal instrument by which one person empowers another to represent him, or act in his stead, for certain purposes“.
Like most legal definitions, this one requires some plain English explanation. A Power of Attorney is:
- a formal document (usually a deed);
- signed by one person (let’s call her Annie);
- giving another person (let’s call him Richard);
- the “power” (or legal ability);
- to do “something” on Annie’s behalf; and
- usually (but not always) for a limited time (e.g. 3 months).
The “something” can be very specific. For example, Annie might give Richard the ability to sign a particular loan document on 23 December 2014 in Singapore.
Or it can be very general. Annie might give Richard the power to manage her bank accounts, property and financial affairs in India while she is living in Australia.
Regardless of how specific or general the power is, you should only give a Power of Attorney to someone you trust and only after you’ve received legal advice from your lawyer about its scope and duration.
Powers of Attorney are important legal documents that can have a big effect on your assets, and legal rights and obligations. Fraudulent Powers of Attorney can cause all sorts of problems, which is why most countries require you to have one or more independent witnesses watch you sign them, and why many countries require a Power of Attorney signed overseas to be witnessed, and attested to, by a Notary Public.
Powers of Attorney can be granted for all sorts of purposes. Recently, for example, we’ve notarised Powers of Attorney to help different clients buy land in Sri Lanka, sell a condominium in Singapore, apply for a mortgage in India, ship a vintage motorcycle from the USA, and finalise a loan transaction in Malaysia.
So if you need an experienced Notary Public to witness, and attest to, the execution of, a Power of Attorney, please give us a call.
Further information: The NSW Department of Attorney General & Justice has published some helpful resources about Powers of Attorney, which you can find here.