A general power of attorney for property is a legal document that allows a person (usually called the "principal" or the "donor") to nominate one or more persons (called "attorneys") to act on their behalf.
A general power of attorney gives the attorney the authority, if the principal chooses, to manage the principal's properties, including buying and selling real estate for the principal, or developing the properties and obtaining licences and permissions as required.
Who Can Be Appointed As Attorney
Any form of power of attorney is a very important document, as it gives a lot of power to any person named as an attorney. Therefore, the principal should think carefully about who they appoint as an attorney, and only appoint people who they trust, who are over 18 years old, and who are capable of handling the principal's properties. There is potential for a power of attorney to be abused by an untrustworthy or incompetent attorney. If the principal or any other person has concerns about the effect of this document, then they should seek legal advice.
Limiting the Power of Attorney
It is also often possible to limit the powers that are granted to an attorney under a general power of attorney. For example, using the example above, if the principal only needs the attorney to help with selling the house while the principal is overseas, then the powers given to the attorney may be limited so that the attorney can only do things that relate directly to the sale of that house. Alternatively, in some cases, a power of attorney can be created so that it only operates between two dates.
If the principal ever has concerns that the attorney may be breaching their obligations, then the principal should seek legal advice and/or should consider revoking the power of attorney.
How to use this document
The first step in preparing this document is for the principal to think carefully about an appropriate person to appoint as an attorney. The principal should think carefully, and make sure that anybody they appoint as an attorney is trustworthy, over 18 years old, and able to manage financial matters responsibly. In most cases, it is appropriate for the principal to speak to the attorney to make sure that they are happy to take on the role.
The principal will also need to think about whether they are appointing the attorney for a specific period (for example, between two dates or until a specific event occurs), or for a specific purpose (for example, to only deal with selling the principal's house).
The document should then be prepared by adding all of the relevant details where required. If some of those details are not available at the time that the document is being prepared, they can be added by hand later. However, they will need to be added before the document is signed.
The Power of attorney will be legally binding when it has been printed on judicial stamp paper or e-stamp paper and signed by each party, and has been dated. The value of the stamp paper would depend on the state in which it is executed. Each state in India has provisions in respect of the amount of stamp duty payable on a power of attorney. Information regarding stamp duty payable can be found on the State government websites. For instance, the website of the state of Karnataka provides details of stamp duty payable on agreements as does the website of the Delhi.
Further, there are some special requirements relating to a power of attorney executed outside India which needs to be authenticated by the notary public or Indian consul.
The law relating to power of attorney is governed by the provisions of the Power of Attorney Act, 1882 and the Contract Act, 1872. Under the said Act, an agent acting under a power of attorney acts, as a general rule, in the name of his principal.
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