A Power of Attorney is a document signed by one person (usually called the ‘donor’) giving another person (usually called the ‘donee‘ or the ‘attorney‘) power to sign documents on the donor’s behalf and to do such things in relation to his or her affairs as are described specifically (a limited power) or generally (a general power) in the document.
Powers of Attorney are very useful instruments, but they can also be very dangerous. They are used for instance, if you are buying, selling or mortgaging property in a foreign country, it may be convenient for you to give a Power of Attorney to a person in that country, usually a lawyer, to deal with the transaction on your behalf. This will save you having to travel abroad to attend to formalities, and may help to smoothen out any problems affecting the transaction generally.
It is imperative that the person signing the Power of Attorney, the donor, understands completely what he or she is signing and it is essential that they have full trust in the person to whom they are giving the powers, the attorney.
Powers of Attorney are important legal documents with potentially serious legal and financial consequences for the persons signing them. It is important, therefore, that you have competent advice as to the legal, financial and taxation implications of any intended foreign transaction and as regards the advisability of giving a Power of Attorney to a foreign lawyer or other person whom you may never have met.
The Notary before whom you appear will require your assurance that you understand the document and its purpose and may require you to sign a formal acknowledgement to this effect.