Power of Attorney, Making Deployment Easier
February 25, 2011
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND ONLY APPLIES TO THE LAW OF ENGLAND AND WALES.
Deployed service people may need affairs managing at home. For unmarried and married partners alike, gaining access to financial and property assets to handle them can be incredibly hard when the person who usually controls them is uncontactable. Even small things such as household bills can turn into nightmares. People who use General Power of Attorneys are usually those who work abroad for long periods of time, or perhaps are in prison.
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. It is not to be confused with a Lasting Power of Attorney, which is one that can be used when someone is losing their mental faculties. This is a separate power that has to be registered with the Court of Protection.
A completed General Power of Attorney means you are handing your matters over to someone who is chosen by you to handle them. The Power of Attorney does not actually have to be given to a lawyer, but the Attorney can be a girlfriend, boyfriend or best friend, or perhaps a sibling or parent. Most importantly, the Attorney you appoint must be someone you trust completely.
You can choose to appoint an Attorney generally to act on your behalf. In this situation the person will have the authority to manage all and any of your affairs in your absence. Alternatively, you can choose to grant your Attorney authority to undertake specific tasks for you whilst you are away, such as renewing your car insurance, or paying a bill.
What can and can’t they do now they have Power of Attorney?
The person with the POA has a great deal of power, unless it is limited by the document itself. They can do anything from signing cheques to moving money around in bank accounts. However, the POA doesn’t cover functions of the asset-owner which relate to certain special personal responsibilities. For example, an Attorney cannot normally perform in your role as a trustee or as a personal representative (i.e. administrator) of someone’s estate. An Attorney cannot sign your Will on your behalf, or modify it, take action concerning your marriage or childcare proceedings or delegate the Power of Attorney to anyone else. Your Attorney cannot use any of your identification.
It’s important to bear in mind that you remain liable for the actions of the Attorney. I cannot stress enough; the extent of the POA is such that it should only be given to somebody you trust implicitly.
How do you make photocopies of a Power of Attorney?
Perhaps you need to send a copy to a business or financial institution? Photocopies should be made by a Solicitor’s office, where a Solicitor will stamp them for you with the law firm’s stamp and sign to say the copy is legitimate. Most firms charge a small fee for this service, and you can usually walk in to high street practices off the street and enquire.
Some companies will accept homemade photocopies although it is best to ask!
Revocation of the Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney is automatically revoked if you die, lose your mental faculties or become seriously injured. Once a Power of Attorney has been put in place it can be terminated at any time by destroying it, or more formally using a Deed of Revocation of Power of Attorney. This Deed is only necessary if you have lost trust in the person acting as Attorney.
I have placed two links below to a completely free General Power of Attorney template. It can be customised easily to include stipulations as to what the Attorney can and cannot do with the grantors assets, although I would advise should you wish to complicate the document in this way you seek professional legal advice. The file format is .docx (Word 2010).
Armed Forces Power of Attorney - England & Wales
I am neither a Solicitor nor a Barrister. The draftsman of the second POA is the very kind @TMT_Lawyer who is a practising Solicitor. If you have any questions please get in touch and I will endeavour to direct your question appropriately!
On a personal note, I would advise keeping a POA locked away somewhere safe and not destroying it. With a partner in the military, last minute deployments are not unheard of and this document can be a life-saver!