What is a General Power of Attorney?

A General Power of Attorney (called a 'General Non-Enduring Power of Attorney' in Victoria) is a powerful legal document that gives another person (your Attorney) the power to manage your property, financial and legal matters for a limited time whilst you are still capable of making your own decisions.

You do not lose your own authority to act in relation to the same matters and you can cancel the Attorney's power at any time you choose while you still have capacity.  

You should be careful to ensure that your Attorney is someone that you trust. An Attorney will have the power to use your money and sell and dispose of your property without discussing any of these decisions with you.  When an Attorney uses their authority, he or she will have legal duties to act honestly, diligently and in good faith while managing your financial affairs. 

Other things an Attorney may be able to do under a General Power of Attorney include:

  • transferring property
  • signing documents; and
  • managing your bank accounts. 

Your Attorney cannot make decisions about your personal, medical or health care matters.

Placing limits on your Attorneys

You can give your Attorney specific directions and limitations relating to your financial or legal matters. For example, you may want your Attorney to deal with your financial matters generally, but you do not want your Attorney to manage a particular company that you have shares in. In this case, you could say 'I do not authorise my Attorney to manage ABC Pty Ltd.' 

If you do not specify any conditions or limitations, then your Attorney will be able to make any decisions relating to your financial, legal and property matters that an Attorney can lawfully make. 

When specifying limitations, you should use plain language and avoid legal jargon. Try to clearly express what it is that you do not want your Attorney to do. For example, instead of saying "I do hereby declare that..." say "I do not want my Attorney to..." 

When does a General Power of Attorney end?

You can choose a specific date that you would like a General Power of Attorney to end. If a date is specified, then the Power of Attorney will end on that date.

A General Power of Attorney is automatically cancelled in the following circumstances:

  • If you lose your decision-making ability.

  • Upon your death or your Attorney's death (depending on whether you have appointed other Attorneys and how you have appointed those Attorneys). .

  • If an Attorney becomes bankrupt or insolvent or is wound up or dissolved.  

  • If an administrator is appointed as an Attorney. 

  • If an Attorney revokes (cancels) his or her power (depending on whether you have appointed other Attorneys and how you have appointed those Attorneys). 

  • If an Attorney becomes a person who has impaired capacity. 

You can elect to cancel your POA at any time while you have capacity by giving a written notice or letter to your Attorneys. You must take reasonable steps to advise all Attorneys and ask for the return of the original POA form.

If your POA is registered, then you must register a cancellation form. A General POA may also be cancelled by the Attorney by giving you a signed notice. 

Go back to making your General Power of Attorney?