A General Power of Attorney (GPA) is a statutory form which authorises someone to act on your behalf and in your name.
It’s a relatively straightforward authorisation and can be used for a wide range of circumstances or for specific periods and events.
It doesn’t have the added complications of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA); as such it is a simple form to fill out.
A GPA can only be used with regard to your property and financial affairs. It cannot be used to authorise someone to make decisions concerning your personal welfare (unlike a Lasting Power).
When will I need a GPA?
You may need to create a General Power for specific events; for example, if you go abroad and wish to entrust the management of your business interests to a family member.
You can use it for a specific period or event, when your age and health make it unlikely that you could lose capacity during the duration of the Power.
When does it end?
A General Power of Attorney automatically ceases to have effect if you should become incapable of making the decisions conferred by the Power.
This is in contrast to a Lasting Power, which remains in force provided that it has been registered.
Who can make a GPA?
You must be over 18, have capacity to grant it and not be an undischarged or interim bankrupt.
What happens once it’s been granted?
In legal terms, the person giving the power is called the “Donor” in England & Wales or the “Granter” in Scotland. The person who is receiving the power is called an “Attorney”.
Once you have granted a General Power, you have given authority for the Attorney to take decisions and act on your behalf regarding your property and affairs, as if you were taking them yourself.
The exception is that the Attorney cannot make gifts.
What powers does the Attorney have?
A General Power of Attorney is very wide-ranging and as a result, an Attorney can do anything they think fit in relation to your property and affairs.
But the Power doesn’t cover functions 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 a Will on your behalf, take action concerning your marriage or delegate their Power to someone else.
Am I liable for the Attorney’s actions?
Yes, so you must only give the power to somebody you trust implicitly.
How long does a GPA last for?
If you become incapable of making the decisions conferred by the Power, the General Power is automatically annulled. Otherwise, a General Power remains valid until it’s revoked.
Can it be revoked?
Powers can be revoked orally, but to avoid misunderstanding it’s wise to write ‘cancelled’ on the original General Power of Attorney form or simply tear it up.
The General Power would also be revoked if you or the Attorney died or become bankrupt.