You may experience a time in your life when it is inconvenient or impractical to carry out your own affairs, whether it relates to your business, property, bank accounts or even a matter before the court. In some of those circumstances, executing a power of attorney might be a solution for you.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (“POA”) is a document by which a person gives power to another to act on their behalf and in their name. The individual giving the power is called the “donor” and the receiver of this power is called the “attorney”. The attorney is an attorney-in-fact which is to be distinguished from an Attorney-at-Law who is someone trained and certified pursuant to the Legal Profession Act to practice as a lawyer in Jamaica. It is important to note that in the context of POAs, the definition of “person” is not limited to natural persons (human beings) only but also includes any “legal person”, such as a company. This means a company can give power to another company or even to a human being to carry out to acts on its behalf and in their name.
Reasons to execute a Power of Attorney
Although there are many reasons why persons execute POAs, generally it is usually out of necessity and/or convenience. A few circumstances where POA’s are useful are where:
- You are outside the jurisdiction and need someone to carry out your affairs locally.
- You are ill and physically incapable of carrying out certain acts yourself, provided that you have the mental capacity to give the power and ratify the actions of your attorney.
- A company’s structure does not conveniently allow for the execution of certain documents and a POA can allow one person to sign on its behalf
- You want to be able to apply to the court for an order in a circumstance where you are not the aggrieved party
- You require someone more competent or trained to carry out your affairs
How a Power of Attorney Works
In Jamaica, for a POA to be valid it must first be properly executed which means that it must be signed before a justice of the peace or, if you are outside of the jurisdiction, before a notary public. The document must then be stamped at Tax Administration Jamaica and thereafter registered at the Island Records Office where it receives a unique registration number. If registration is not done, then the attorney will not be able to act. For example, if the power is for transferring a motor vehicle on your behalf, Tax Administration Jamaica will not effect the transfer without seeing the unique registration number on the document.
A power of attorney is a very important document as the attorney will be stepping in your shoes and carrying out acts which can have a great and lasting impact on your life and livelihood. Therefore, it is crucial that you carefully consider the person you appoint as well as the powers that you will give. You will need to ensure the powers he/ she has been given is not too limited but not too broad. It recommended that you retain the services of an Attorney-at-Law who will be able oversee the entire process, from drafting the document to stamping and registration.
Antwan Cotterell is an Associate at Myers, Fletcher & Gordon in the Property Department. He can be contacted via Antwan.Cotterell@mfg.com.jm or myersfletcher.com. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.