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Scope of Powers Given to Attorney

Scope of Powers Given to Attorney

The appointment under an ordinary power of attorney can be framed so as to give general authority to act for the grantor of the appointment (as far as the law allows) or to act for the grantor only in relation to a specified act or type/s of acts. 

For example, the powers granted might be only “special”, i.e. they comprise authority to sign a particular document, or to sign all documents related to or comprising a specific transaction. They might include power to agree the terms of any such document. They might also include power to take any other steps needed in relation to entering into or carrying out a particular transaction. 

All of these examples can be distinguished from “general” powers which could be granted by a power of attorney. For example, a general power might be phrased in such a way as to enable the attorney to do anything through an attorney that the appointor could lawfully do for themselves, or it might allow the attorney to sign documents of a certain type(s) or actions of a certain type in each case relating to any or only certain types of subject matter.

When considering the appropriate extent of the powers to be granted, the appointor must balance two opposing risks. If unnecessarily wide powers are granted, there is a danger that an untrustworthy attorney could abuse their powers and cause substantial harm to the appointor's interests. On the other hand, an over-restrictive definition might prevent the attorney from satisfactorily carrying the relevant task/s due to a lack of authority.

It will be important to consider what, if any, time limit there should be on the appointment of the attorney. The power of attorney document should state when the powers commence, and the date on which they cease. The cessation date might be a fixed date and/or the date when a notice to revoke (given by the appointor) becomes effective. A power of attorney document should usually include a right for the appointor to revoke it: it is not advisable to grant an appointment that is irremovable.

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