A Power of Attorney (“POA“) is a legal document that allows a person (the “Donor”) to legally authorise another person (the “Donee” or “Attorney”) to act on the Donor’s behalf either generally or with regard to a specific matter. The Donee’s acts will bind the Donor legally as though the Donor did those acts himself.
It should be noted that a Power of Attorney discussed here is different from a Lasting Power of Attorney under the Mental Capacity Act (Cap. 177A).
The Donor can state in the POA the specific powers and acts which the Donee can do either generally or with regard to a specific matter. POAs are typically useful or necessary when a person is overseas and requires someone else to act on his behalf locally, i.e. in Singapore. E.g. (1) if he is purchasing, selling or renting out a property while he is overseas; (2) if he has to sign certain documents with HDB but cannot attend the signing personally.
A Donor should be at least 21 years old and have the mental capacity to sign the POA. POAs are generally valid until revoked by the Donor, upon the death or incapacity of the Donor, or upon an event stated in the POA. There is no requirement under the law that an executed POA be filed or lodged with any registry, although one may voluntarily file a POA with the Registry of the Supreme Court pursuant to section 48 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act (Cap. 61) as regards POA dealing with real and/or personal property.
Typical matters which Donees may deal with under POAs include:-
- sale and purchase, and rental, of any real or personal property
- tax matters
- handle debts (e.g. enforce or collect debts)
- investments (e.g. shares, bonds)
- commence, maintain or defend litigation / legal proceedings