A Power of Attorney is a document where one party (“the donor”) gives another party or parties (“the donee”) the power to act on his or her behalf within the terms set out in the document and the donor becomes liable for the actions of the donee.
The most common use of Powers of Attorney is for foreign transactions, such as property sales or purchases, where a person wishes to avoid having to travel abroad to attend to the formalities.
While they can witness the signing of Powers of Attorney for use outside Ireland, as a general rule, Irish Notaries have difficulty preparing such documents. This is because they are not familiar with the precise requirements under local laws. The normal procedure is that the person wishing to have the document notarised has it prepared (commonly in the foreign language with an English language version accompanying it) and presents him or herself with the document to the Notary with a request that the Notary witness the signing of the document.
Powers of attorney can have long lasting and wide ranging adverse consequences. They should not be entered into lightly. They need to be carefully drafted and extreme caution needs to be exercised when granting them. Professional advice, which the Notary does not provide, should be taken. As an old adage has it:
“A Power of Attorney in the hands of an unscrupulous person is one of the most lethal documents known to the civilised and uncivilised world; a power of attorney is capable of dissipating all the assets of the donor at the stroke of a pen”.