What is a Power of Attorney in Singapore: Knowing the Basics
The majority of people use the term “Power of Attorney” or POA. Even if most Singaporeans know it, not everyone is aware of its implications. Well, if you have been asking “What is a Power of Attorney?”, you need to read this article.
What is it?
The Power of Attorney was given a definition as “an instrument created by a person who entrusts someone to act on his behalf” by Singapore’s Supreme Court. The person who created the instrument is called “donor” and the “donee” is the one who receives the authority act. The donor can also be referred to as the principal, or the granter. On the other hand, the donee is also called the agent or attorney-in-fact. Using ‘attorney-in-fact’ does not mean the authority can only be given to a lawyer.
Requirements to Get a POA
- Submission of Application.
- Original Passport to be submitted with the application.
- Photocopy the 1st and last page of the passport.
- The documents last page should have the applicant’s photograph and signature. The notary public should notarize the document in Singapore.
- The photocopy of the POA should be submitted with the application
- Stickers (2 photos).
- IC (PR, EP, SPASS, DEP, and others).
- The processing time is 3 to 5 working days.
For Singaporeans and Foreigners: Non-Indian nationals needing an attestation of the POA they executed must take note of the requirements prior to applying in the collection center. The documents required:
- Have the POA notarized in a Notary Public and affix a photograph with it.
- Every page of the POA should have the executor’s signature and a Notary Public stamp. The Notary also has to stamp/sign the photograph.
- Please bring the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) and Passport. Photocopy them.
- An English translation should accompany any document not written in English. The applicants are allowed to have their documents translated from official translators or one of the gazette organizations. These are Commissioner of Oaths, DAV school, Gujarati Society, etc. Please bring the original and copies for the document’s attestation.
- If the document did not come from India or the applicant is not an Indian national, the document has to be notarized first.
- Please remember that the POA should be registered under the correct State government’s Land Department within 3 months.
If you are having a hard time dealing with these requisites, you can hire a lawyer in Singapore instead.
Who can be a Donee?
A POA is an enforceable document which lets you authorize someone to make decisions on your behalf. This person could be your employee, friend, relative or anyone you choose. The common law and the civil law will both accept this document. The authority placed on the donee by the donor may be for legal or business matters.
Is it Possible to Make a POA if You Get Mentally Incapacitated?
It is not possible because the law requires you to have a full understanding of everything before the document can be valid. You are advised to execute a Power of Attorney when you are still healthy. An event that will make you mentally incapacitated is unexpected, and it is best always to be prepared.
How to Sign the POA?
After you have submitted your application, make an appointment with the office, and you will be contacted for POA signing. You must bring your NRIC or Passport.
If you happen to be overseas, your POA will be sent using the mode you have chosen for execution after paying all charges. After signing the POA before a Singapore Consulate Officer or Notary Public of the country where you are staying, you are to return it. Please bring it to the Singapore Office so the same copy will be deposited to the Supreme Court of Singapore. Then, a confirmation letter to HDB will be written.
When is the POA Effective and When Does it Expire?
The POA is active on the document’s stipulated date, or when the contemplated situation in the POA happens. After that, the Attorney or Donee should perform a deed. Besides, the expiration of the POA may be written or end on the date stipulated in the POA. This applies to the POA case that deals with an HDB flat. The POA is not allowed by the HDB to last more than six years from the date it took effect. A new one should be made if the Donor still requires the assistance of the Donee.
The duration of the POA can also end once the condition is accomplished. For instance, when you get back to Singapore and can do them yourself. You also have the option to have the POA terminated or revoked if you want to replace the Donee. You would have to withdraw the POA and apply for a new one. In this event, it is crucial to let the High Court of Singapore of the Deed of Revocation know about it.
The POA gets terminated when the Donor dies, becomes mentally incapacitated or bankrupted. Since the power of the Donee is derived from the Donor, it is necessary that the power ends when the Donor dies or loses legal or mental capacity.
Understand the Concepts
The operation and execution of the POA should be understood well. Since you are going to give someone the authority to make decisions, it does not mean your power to decide is gone. The POA is only to permit another person to do specific acts or make decisions for you. For instance, if you get hospitalized or you are away, you cannot perform essential duties that need your presence. You need the POA so that someone else can do such acts for you.
The Donee, whom you trust, should only do what you directed them to, especially when you are unable to take the decisions you made. This is similar to sharing your authority and power with a person you chose or both. The donor and the donee can decide or act based on their own judgment. However, the donee is going to take the donor’s power.
What Else Should be Done for the POA to be Acceptable?
The POA should be written precisely and clearly. This will leave no reason for suspicion to avoid the third parties rejecting the POA but can use it to make more inquiries. The powers that will be given to the Donee should also be stated very specifically. For instance, if you wish to give your Donee the authority to apply and purchase an HDB flat under your name. You should state in the POA clearly that he or she is also authorized to get a housing loan. If applicable, the donee can be given the power to withdraw your Central Provider Fund savings for financing the purchase or for paying any monthly installment.
In case no loan is needed and not using any CPF money, you do not have to include these ancillary powers under the POA. However, if you are like the majority of the buyers, these specific powers have to be included. Failing to means the Donee cannot assist you which can cause the delay of purchase. At the same time, a new POA is being accomplished or the documents you received from overseas should be signed.
There is a specific POA format for the HDB with a lot of specific provisions on documents signing, CPF accounts’ access, loans, collecting keys, and opening accounts. Lawyers need to use the given specimen POA but might apply it to fulfill a client’s request.
Are There Any Risks?
The risk is if the donee cannot be trusted, it could result in serious problems. For instance, the donee could run away with the donor’s money, getting the money back could be impossible or extremely difficult.
Ordinarily, you are bound by the acts of your Donee and will be held responsible for the negligence of your donee. Whether you like it or not, you would have to pay for it.
It is obviously important for you to choose a donee you can really trust.
Can the Donee be Sued?
A donee is only accountable for any intentional misconduct. Typically, he or she is not at fault for unintentionally doing something wrong. The POA document includes protection for this to encourage a person to become your donee because it has no compensation.
In case your friend, relative, or you suspect any wrongdoing by the donee, report it right away to law enforcement.
The Difference Between POA and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
The POA ends when the donor is no longer mentally able. In contrast to this, an LPA is executed by the donor when he or she is still mentally able. It only becomes effective when his or her mental capacity is lost. It can be whether for temporary or permanent. Like a POA, the LPA should also be signed in the presence of a witness. The witness could be a trained doctor, a psychiatrist or a lawyer to attest the execution of the POA if needed. An LPA should also be registered, not under the High Court of Singapore. It should be registered under the Public Guardian’s office.
Since you have been asking “What is the Power of Attorney?”, your questions have been answered and these are very important. Also, make sure the donee you have in mind is trustworthy and will not cause any troubles. This is especially with money because it is very hard to get it back. Moreover, even if the process may seem tedious, there is assistance that will be provided and you will be guided.