General power of attorney

General power of attorney

What is it?

There are different types of power of attorney (What is a power of attorney?).

A general power of attorney (GPA) is ideally suited for situations where you need to give certain rights to another person(s) to deal with your property for a limited time, such as when you are going away on holiday or moving out of the country for a few years. A GPA is also known as an ordinary power of attorney.

A GPA can't be used in cases where you need someone to act on your behalf because you are mentally incapable of doing these tasks for yourself. In this case you need a Lasting power of attorney (LPA).

The GPA does not need to be registered and is therefore fully effective as soon as the person ('the donor') creating it has signed it.

Why the document is useful

The GPA would be useful if, for example, you are selling your home and the exchange of contracts is due to take place around the time when you will be away on holiday. If there are problems while you are away, such as a last-minute amendment to what is included within the fixtures and fittings of the property, these amendments can be signed off by your 'attorney'. Failure to have a power of attorney in place in this case, will mean that you can't complete the paperwork even if you have agreed to all the amendments.

Revoking a general power of attorney

When you no longer want your GPA to be in force, you can revoke it by completing a deed of revocation.

In addition, the GPA will automatically come to an end if you (i.e. the donor) lose your mental capacity to make your own decisions.

Other jurisdictions

This information relates only to general powers of attorney in England & Wales. If you are in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can read the article on Scotland (General power of attorney) or Northern Ireland (General power of attorney) as appropriate.

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