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Power of attorney – Key concepts

Legal matters

Power of attorney – Key concepts

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What is a power of attorney?

We often hear the term ‘Power of attorney’ being thrown around in different scenarios but what does it actually mean? A power of attorney is an authorisation given from one person (let’s call him A) to another person (let’s call him B) to allow B the right to to act on A’s behalf when A is unable to manage his own affairs.

There could be various instances when a power of attorney may be needed. For example, when a person is out of the country and wants someone within to manage their affairs, or when a person is too sick to manage their own affairs.


There are two different types: a general power of attorney or a special power of attorney.

A general power of attorney is a very wide authorisation and can be interpreted very broadly. One should be very careful when performing a general power of attorney to pay heed to the wide variety of powers that a general power of attorney provides.

A special power of attorney is often provided for a specific purpose and does not provide a wide variety of powers. The powers are limited to the specific purpose that it was provided for.


For a power of attorney to be valid:

  • The parties must be clearly defined.
  • The extent of the powers being provided must be clearly defined.
  • It must be signed by the person giving the power as well as two witnesses.
  • The witnesses cannot derive any benefit from the power of attorney.

A power of attorney remains valid and enforceable until:

  1. It is revoked.
  2. All duties have been fulfilled and complied with.
  3. The person granting the power of attorney passes away.
  4. The person granting the power of attorney is sequestrated.
  5. The person granting the power of attorney becomes mentally unfit.

When looking to put together a power of attorney, always seek expert legal advice to ensure that all your bases are covered as a power of attorney is a very powerful document once it has taken effect.

Next: Power of attorney – Mentally unfit persons

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Shameer Chothia is currently an Employee Benefits Consultant at Momentum Consultant and Actuaries. He is the chairman of the Rhine Stone Body Corporate and the Founder and Head Financial Coach at LMS Financial Coaching. Shameer is deeply passionate about financial literacy and education. He truly believes that there is duty to empower people with education, which makes a difference in their everyday lives. To achieve this, he founded LMS, actively changing lives by empowering people with financial knowledge

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