General Power of Attorney

Published: 16th January 2012
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General Power of Attorney

The General Power of Attorney is a document that will appoint an attorney to act on your behalf regarding general activities such as personal and/or financial matters.



Use of the Term


There are significant differences between powers of attorney in England (and Wales) and Scotland, including different terminology. In England the person giving another person the power to act on their behalf is called the "Donor"; in Scotland he/she is called the "Granter". The person or persons to whom the powers are granted are called "Attorneys".


Function of General Power of Attorney

Usually, a General Power of Attorney is created for a set period of time in cases where the donor is going abroad or is unable to act for some other reason and wishes someone else to have the authority to act on his or her behalf. A General Power of Attorney will usually end either at a specified time or upon the request of the donor at any time using a deed of revocation and will automatically be revoked if the donor loses mental capacity.

There is no requirement for the General Power of Attorney to be registered.


Enduring Power of Attorney

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) with Lasting Powers of Attorney from 1 October 2007. From this date it is no longer possible to create a new EPA.

Existing but un-registered EPAs can continue to be registered after 1 October 2007.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 from 1 October 2007. They allow individuals to appoint Attorneys to look after their property and financial affairs (a Property and Financial Affairs LPA) and also to make health and personal welfare decisions (a Health and Welfare LPA) when they lack the capacity to make these decisions themselves in the future. The Attorney(s) can only use the LPA after it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.


Continuing Power of Attorney

A Continuing Power of Attorney allows the donor to appoint a legally authorised person to look after their property and financial affairs should they become incapable of doing so themselves at some point in the future. It remains valid after the donor has become mentally incapable and must be registered to be effective.


In What Situations General Power Of Attorney Applies?


You have to decide one or more of the following tasks that your attorney-in-fact will carry out on your behalf from time to time:

- manage your properties

- preparing and filing income tax returns

- making decisions regarding health care

- do transactions at the bank and pay your bills

- handle your retirement and insurance benefits

- collect your social security benefits

- handle your legal claims

You have two options when deciding how much authority you are going to allow to your agent. You can give either general or a limited power. The right choice depends on your needs and preferences when it comes to managing your affairs.


What to Consider In Choosing an Attorney


Age

It is a basic factor in determining whether someone is fit to become your attorney. You must choose a person who is a lot younger than you are since he or she can carry out the responsibilities for a longer time compared to the older ones. Younger person is relatively healthier then his older counterpart, so he can handle your asset without much hassle.

The person who can do the duties

Typically, elderly people appoint their eldest child as their agent. But how can they be so sure that their child will be able to perform all the responsibilities? If you have more then one child, it is better to divide the power of attorney among your children.

Trust

You must appoint a person to whom you trust most.

Comfort

You must be comfortable with your attorney in dealing any issue. On the process of drafting the power of attorney document, you will have to discuss all the terms in it; therefore, it is important that the agent wonít be too much headache for you.

Amount of control

How much authority are you willing to grant to your agent in terms of decision making and performing your tasks on your behalf? That is a crucial. You may opt for several limited powers of attorney if you are not comfortable with the idea of giving your agent full control over your assets and personal matters.

Legal requirements

A person must meet certain requirements according to the laws. For example, an agent should be of sound mind to be able to make the right decision.

Does the person truly understand your feelings?

He should know you well so as to understand your own point of views and opinions.

Is the person easily available?

Appoint an agent who is easily accessible or available, so that you can contact him in case of emergency.

Work experience.

It may be important to choose an agent that has some experience in finance or legal matters.



The donor can place limits on what the attorney can do, and on the length of time for which the power operates. So, for example, a donor might give an attorney power to:



  • manage the donorís financial affairs generally while they are abroad, until a given date

  • sell the donorís house, if the donor has already moved abroad and is not available to sign the sale documents; or

  • do everything except sell the donorís house.


The Pros and Cons Of The Power Of Attorney


Why the document is useful

The general power of attorney would be useful if, for example, you are selling your home and the exchange of contracts is due to take place around the time when you will be away on holiday. Then, if there are problems while you are away on holiday - e.g. a last minute amendment to what is included within the fixtures and fittings of the property - these amendments can be signed off by your 'attorney' under your general power of attorney. Failure to have a power of attorney in place may mean that, in this scenario, you cannot complete the paperwork in the proper form accepted by solicitors and Land Registry for a property sale even if you fully know and have agreed to all the amendments.


Remember that in giving a power of attorney to someone, you are basically giving up all your powers in favour of your attorney. For instance, your agent has full right to agree or refuse to sign a contract on your behalf. If the agent turns out to be corrupt, then any transaction that he handles is at risk for fraud. Thus, giving that kind of power to one person can be very risky even if you plan to monitor all the transaction made in your name.


Validity


It all depends on the legal papers that accompany the power of attorney. And these papers stating the contract for the power of attorney is required to be shown before an attorney/agent can act. †Because of the birth of the internet and the computer, powers of attorney sent over the internet or those that are electronically given are accepted in some countries.

Remember that regardless of the period stated on the contract, the power of attorney will be void once the donor dies. However, when the donor fell ill, become physically or mentally incapacitated, some power of attorney agreements are honored provided that they have the provision that the contract will still be valid when these things happen. Otherwise, they will also become void.

It is also assumed that the agent will be completely honest and truthful with his business dealing in representing the donor. When the attorney/agent is proven to be dishonest and fraudulent, all the things that he has signed Ė when the power of attorney is still in effect Ė will be deemed invalid.


Can I Revoke my General Power of Attorney

When you no longer want your general power of attorney to be in force, you can revoke the general power of attorney by completing a deed of revocation.

In addition, if the person creating the power of attorney loses mental capacity, the general power of attorney will automatically come to an end.


Our General Power of Attorney Template


The General Power of Attorney is often a blanket agreement, but you can create a more specific tailored document using our template.



The General Power of Attorney offered on Net Lawman site is a document template. The template has been designed to protect your legal rights when you need to hand over Power of Attorney to another. You are able to customise the document within the laws of England and Wales. The document available for download is written by expert team of Solicitors and Barristers to ensure your rights are being protected.



You can edit the document when you need to and reuse it at any time. The template is useful for long term and short term appointments of Power of Attorney.




For more information, visit us at http://www.netlawman.co.uk/bizdoc/general-power-of-attorney.php?docid=WIL222&categoryID=20164

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