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Overview of the General power of attorney (POA)

Make sure someone has the authority to handle your legal affairs with this power of attorney (also known as a POA) when you are out of the country or in hospital. This general power of attorney form allows you to give legal permission to someone else to make decisions and sign documents on your behalf. It is only for use when you still have mental capacity but are unavailable to act in person for some other reason.

Use this general power of attorney (POA)

  • if you need someone to act in your place whilst you are away
  • if you want to give someone the power to act as if they were you on a short-term basis only
  • when you have "mental capacity", ie you understand what you are signing
  • only if you trust absolutely the person or persons you appoint as your attorney(s)
  • only if you live in England or Wales

This general power of attorney (POA) covers

  • the end date of the power of attorney
  • how the power of attorney can be used

A general power of attorney (GPA) is a document that gives the attorney the power to deal with your affairs and to act on your behalf and in your name. It is governed by section 10 of the Power of Attorney Act 1971.

You need a general power of attorney if you want to appoint someone to handle your documents or financial affairs in the event that you are absent or away from home or in any other specific situation when you need someone to act on your behalf. This could include executing documents when you are away or when you want to entrust a family member to manage your business whilst you are on holidays.

The person giving the power is called the donor and the person to whom the power is given is the donee.

You can choose:

  • an individual/s over 18 years old
  • a company
  • or a limited liability partnership
to act as your attorney. The individual needs to have mental capacity and not be discharged or interim bankrupt.

The power of attorney must be witnessed, in general, by one witness. However, in some circumstances, such as when you buy, sell or otherwise deal in Government securities or the power is used for matters outside the UK, you will need at least two witnesses.

With this power of attorney you can set an end date, if you wish, or it can be revoked using a revocation deed.

A GPA can be revoked by a revocation letter. It will also be automatically revoked by the mental incapacity of the donor, i.e. who granted the GPA in a first place.

Ask a lawyer for:

  • limiting your attorney's duties to specific acts only
  • advice if you want your attorney to continue to act on your behalf if you lose mental capacity
  • advice about lasting powers of attorney
  • additional advice if you are unsure about any of the issues connected with this general power of attorney

Other names for General power of attorney (POA)

POA, Ordinary power of attorney and Power of attorney.