NSW General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney

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In NSW there are two types of Power of Attorney:

1️⃣  General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney [publicly available for free ➲ download here]; and

2️⃣  Enduring Power of Attorney.

They are for practical purposes the same, with one crucial difference.

A General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney automatically ceases if you lose your legal mental capacity after its execution.

If you want the Power of Attorney to continue after you lose your legal mental capacity you must use an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Who can you appoint as your Attorney/s?

You need to consider that an Attorney will have enormous power over your financial + legal affairs.

You can appoint anyone you will agree to take on the responsibility.

You should choose a person whom you can trust and who will manage your finances in a responsible way.

Usually one or more family members or close friends are appointed as Powers of Attorney, alternatively you may prefer to approach the NSW Trustee And Guardian or a private trustee company or lawyer to act as your attorneys, but fees will apply.

What is a General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney [GPOA]?

A General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you (the Principal) to nominate one or more persons (referred to as an Attorney) to act on your behalf.  

A GPOA gives the Attorney the authority, if you choose, to manage your legal and financial affairs, including but not limited to:

➲ Buying, selling, leasing or otherwise dealing with your real estate (registration is required - see below);

➲ Shares and other assets for you;

➲ Operating your bank accounts; and

➲ Spending money on your behalf.

Does a lawyer need to be involved in witnessing my GPOA?

No. A GPOA only requires a witness who is over the age of 18 and not an Attorney under the GPOA being signed.

You may set whatever conditions and limitations on your Attorney that you choose.

An Attorney must always act in your best interest.

Do I need to get legal advice before I sign my POA?

Yes. A Power of Attorney [whether a GPOA or EPOA] is an important + powerful legal document.

You should get legal advice before you sign it.

GPOA v. EPOA

After you have signed a Power of Attorney you still continue to have the authority to deal with your own legal + financial affairs as long as you retain legal mental capacity.

It is at the point of time when you lose your legal mental capacity where the crucial difference between the two types of Power of Attorney becomes apparent.

Important: Once you have lost your legal mental capacity you have no ability to create another Power of Attorney or any other legal document.

The question of legal mental capacity is a complex one.

Once legal mental capacity is lost there is still potential it might return, but it is also possible it may not.

In an abundance of caution ➲ EPOA + EG are both strongly recommended

We recommended that as part of your Estate Planning process, both an EPOA + an Enduring Guardianship [EG] be created.

Ideally this will be at a time when there is no question regarding your legal mental capacity.

This ensures that in case of something unforeseen happening to you ➲ i.e., a stroke or accident; there will be at least one other person who can quickly + easily look after your money + property.

If not already in place, both an Enduring Power of AttorneyEnduring Guardianship can be appointed as soon as possible after signs/diagnosis of dementia (this is strongly advised).

What happens if you lose legal mental capacity + you don't have an EPOA?

A special application for financial management orders would need to be made to a Court or NSW Civil + Administrative Tribunal [NCAT] to appoint someone as your financial manager. NCAT may appoint an independent public official called the ‘Protective Commissioner’.

Note: Fees will apply which will be paid on your behalf using your money. As you would have lost your legal mental capacity you would not be able to do this yourself and would have no control over the process or who is appointed.

Revocation of Power of Attorney

If your Attorney does not follow your directions or does not act in your best interest, you should revoke the Power of Attorney.

You or someone on your behalf should inform the attorney of the revocation, preferably in writing.

The Attorney must then immediately cease to act as your Attorney.

If anyone else, such as a bank, has been advised about the Power of Attorney, that person or entity should also be informed of the revocation.

Note: Making a new Power of Attorney does not automatically revoke earlier Powers of Attorney.

Each earlier Power of Attorney must be specifically revoked.

Enabling NSW Legislation

The relevant legislation governing the creation of Powers of Attorney in New South Wales is:

The Powers of Attorney Act 2003 (NSW); and The Powers of Attorney Regulation 2016 (NSW).

The prescribed form for a General (Non-Enduring) Power of Attorney is Form 1 Schedule 2 of the Powers of Attorney Regulation 2016 (NSW).

Note: New temporary regulations permit witnessing via video-conference during the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Lawyer-Assisted] Supporting Resources:

➲  EPOA Risks: Signing away your financial life can be dangerous. Here's how to minimise the risks. Choice Article (last updated 02 March 2017);

➲  Guidelines for Solicitors preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney;

➲  Powers of Attorney Act 2003: A Commentary compiled by the Elder Law + Succession Committee (last updated July 2014).

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What Steps are required to register Powers of Attorney (and Revocations) with NSW Land Registry Services

Q: Do I have to register my Power of Attorney?

A: No.

Registration is not essential, unless the proposed actions of the Attorney involve certain types of land +/or share transaction (see below).

It is highly recommended to register your Power of Attorney so that it is:

➲ On record as a public document;

➲ Safe from loss or destruction; and

➲ More easily accepted as evidence that your Attorney is allowed to deal with your legal + financial affairs.

Q: When must a Power of Attorney be registered in NSW?

A: A Power of Attorney must be registered for:

✅ Land transactions, except for a lease with a term less than 3 years including any option of renewal (s163 Conveyancing Act 1919);

✅ Land transactions involving Torrens Title land, except for a lease with a term less than 3 years including any option of renewal (s36(2) Real Property Act 1900); and

✅ Share transactions (Australian Stock Exchange practice).

Registering a Power of Attorney in NSW

To register a Power of Attorney, you must:

1️⃣  Lodge the Power of Attorney at NSW Land Registry Services, Level 30, 175 Liverpool Street, Sydney 2000; together with a

2️⃣  Completed Deeds Index Particulars form

Registering an Interstate Enduring Power of Attorney in NSW

An Enduring Power of Attorney made under the legislation of another State or Territory of Australia may be accepted for registration providing it is accompanied by a certificate from a Legal Practitioner (that is, a Lawyer) from that State or Territory stating:

➲ The Power of Attorney was made in accordance with the formal requirements of the law of that State or Territory; and

➲ He or she has been admitted, holds a practising certificate and practices in that State or Territory.

A Power of Attorney written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation and be verified by the interpreter.

Revocation of a Registered Power of Attorney in NSW

If the Power of Attorney is registered, although you are not legally required to do so, in an abundance of caution, we recommend you take the additional steps summarised below required to register the revocation.

If you wish to register this revocation, you must:

1️⃣  Lodge the revocation at NSW Land Registry Services, Level 30, 175 Liverpool Street, Sydney 2000; together with a

2️⃣  Completed Deeds Index Particulars form.

Notes for Completion of a Deeds Index Particulars Form

(A) Lodging Party - Must be completed.

(B) Instrument - Power of Attorney / Power of Attorney - Revocation of

(C) Locality - Not required.

Link Conveyance - Not required.

Principal Deed - The affected Power of Attorney if registered.

(D) Indexing - The Principal.

(E) Certification - Required.

NSW Land Registry Guideline Pages

Registration of a Power of Attorney [after 16.2.2004]

Revocation of a Power of Attorney

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

When do I need to formally revoke the appointment of my Power of Attorney?

Whether or not you need to formally (in writing) revoke the Power of Attorney will depend upon your individual circumstances, as well as those of your appointed Attorney/s.

Attorney not acting in your best interest

If your Attorney does not follow your directions or does not act in your best interest, you should revoke the Power of Attorney.

Note: Making a new Power of Attorney does not automatically revoke earlier Powers of Attorney.

Each earlier Power of Attorney must be specifically revoked.

Legal Mental Capacity

The most important consideration is whether or not you think you may lose your legal mental capacity in the near future.

If this is the case, it is important you have executed your Will, and appointed Attorneys under Enduring Power of Attorney/s +/or Enduring GuardiansAdvance Health Directives you are confident will look after your best interests into the future.

If you have not considered and implemented your estate plan or are not confident you have appointed the right Executor/s, Attorney/s then now is time you need to make any required changes.

In order to revoke an Enduring Power of Attorney, the Principal (you) must still have legal mental capacity.  

For free resources aimed at providing assistance to lawyers and the public regarding how to assess legal mental capacity, please refer the following guides

➲ The Queensland Handbook for Legal Practitioners (i.e., Lawyers) on Capacity; or

➲ The NSW Justice Capacity Toolkit.

Important Note: All of the above applies regardless of whether or not you have concerns.

Legal mental capacity can be lost at anytime due to unforeseen circumstances.

We highly recommend that the above matters be considered as part of a regular review of your estate planning requirements.

If you lose legal mental capacity for any reason, and don't regain it, it will be too late to ensure your intent and instructions are followed.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.