What does ‘Power of Attorney’ mean ?
A Power of Attorney can be defined as “A written document in which one person (the principal) appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf, thus conferring authority on the agent to perform certain acts or functions on behalf of the principal”.
An adult with full contractual capacity is entitled to make decisions about his/her personal welfare, financial affairs and medical treatment. An adult who does not have full contractual capacity (whether through mental illness, intellectual disability, physical disability, head injury, an extended period of unconsciousness, stroke or extreme old age) requires assistance to make these decisions. This assistance is often provided by a curator appointed by the High Court.
Sometimes a person with full contractual capacity may not be able to do something personally (for example sign a document) because that person may, for example, be out of the country or not near the place where the act needs to be performed. In these cases, the person (“the principal”) can execute a power of attorney in favour of a third party (“the agent”), authorising the agent to perform the act on the principal’s behalf. The basic laws of agency apply to this relationship.
Date: 3rd March 2014
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