A power of attorney is a written document that a grantor, principal or donor uses to give authority to another person to represent or act on his behalf. This power can extend to business, legal or private affairs.
In accordance with the law of England and Wales, any person with capacity can grant a power of attorney. A Notary must determine whether a person has mental capacity and that they have a full understanding of the document before permitting them to sign. A Notary will also check that the person signing the document is not under any duress or pressure to sign and is doing so under their own free will.
In England and Wales there are several types of power of attorney. These can be general, limited or special. General power of attorney allows the attorney to do anything on behalf of the grantor, while limited power of attorney restricts the attorney to certain acts allowed by the grantor. A special power of attorney only gives the authority to carry out specific acts expressly designated in the power of attorney document.
A power of attorney is also only valid whilst the grantor has capacity to ratify the actions of the attorney, unless it is a lasting power of attorney that has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
There are certain formalities that must be adhered to for a power of attorney to be binding in England and Wales. The contents of the power of attorney must be clear, with no scope for ambiguity, and the words Power of Attorney must appear on the face of the document so that it is immediately apparent what the document is. In order for the power of attorney to be executed correctly, it must be done so as a deed, which again must be stated on the document, and the grantor’s signature must be subscribed to the document before two witnesses.
Different countries have different requirements, however. Some countries require powers of attorney to be written in the name of the grantor, whereas some require it to be written as if the Notary is narrating the document. Some powers of attorney contain a notarial certificate at the end of the document, whereas others encompass the contents of the document within a notarial certificate. A power of attorney may also require a copy of a form of identification to be included with the document, such as a passport or national identity card, whereas others simply require the signature of the grantor. What most powers of attorney have in common, however, is that the grantor must execute the document in front of a Notary Public.
A Notary Public will know exactly how to execute the document correctly and will guide you through this process, providing all additional notarial certificates and identifications that are required by the receiving party. In must be noted however, that requirements must be checked with the receiving party before signing before a notary to ensure that all formalities are met.