Notary public witnessing Power of Attorney for use overseas
As an experienced notary public, we assist clients with documents intended for other counties. One common document is the document known as a power of attorney, which is an important document in most countries – although it may be known by different names. Essentially a power of attorney is the written authority that you give to someone else to empower them to do certain things on your behalf.
For example, you may need to appoint an attorney because you are not physically present to sign important documents and your attorney will then sign the documents on your behalf in accordance with the authority granted to them by the power of attorney.
In New South Wales, the authority that can be granted by a power of attorney is limited to financial matters only – but in other jurisdictions it may extend to dealing with and making decisions on your personal, health and welfare matters.
Generally, if you have property in a country other than Australia, and you want to appoint someone to deal with that property on your behalf, you would need to appoint that person as your attorney through a power of attorney. It is important that the power of attorney is valid according to the laws of the country in which it is to be used rather than the country in which you create the power of attorney.
For example, if you own property in Singapore but you currently resident are in Australia, you may need to appoint an attorney in Singapore to look after your property on your behalf. The power of attorney that you prepare to appoint them as your attorney should be valid according to the laws in Singapore rather than Australia even if you may be signing that power of attorney in Australia.
In providing notary public services, we witness many different types of power of attorney intended to be used in many different countries. Usually, the power of attorney will be prepared by lawyers in the country in which the power of attorney is intended to be used and sent to Australia for signing in front of a notary public. Sometimes the form and format of the power of attorney will be important. For example, a general power of attorney used in India and prepared in India might be printed on ‘bond paper’ (although, we witness just as many general power of attorney documents for India printed on normal A4 paper – which is the usual case if the power of attorney is sent by email in electronic form).
It is important to be aware that different countries have different signing requirements for the power of attorney to be legally valid according to their laws. When signed in Australia, some foreign countries require the power of attorney to be signed in front of the notary public only, while others may require one or even two witnesses and the notary public. Depending on the intended use, after the power of attorney is signed in front of the notary public, the notarised power of attorney requires authentication and legalisation, or have an apostille attached by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. To be sure on the specific requirements of your specific power of attorney, the lawyers who prepared the power of attorney should also provide you with instructions on how it should be signed and whether it requires an apostille, or authentication and legalisation.
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Ern Phang is the solicitor director of Phang Legal and a public notary. Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a public notary and the kinds of issues faced by his clients in sending documents overseas.
This information is correct as at the date of publication (2010-02-01 09:00:18) and may not include subsequent changes.
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