Last updated 5 August 2016
Chapter 2 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld) (Powers of Attorney Act) makes provision for general powers of attorney.
A general power of attorney is a document in which a principal authorises one or more attorneys to do anything that the principal can lawfully do and is capable of doing. A general power of attorney excludes personal matters (see What powers can be given). A general power of attorney document also provides terms or information about exercising the power (s 8 Powers of Attorney Act).
In a general power of attorney, a principal may specify when and in what circumstances the power can be exercised. If the document does not specify a time when it is exercisable, it will begin immediately after it is made (s 9 Powers of Attorney Act).
A general power of attorney made under the Powers of Attorney Act must be in the approved form. It must be signed by the principal, or at the direction and in the presence of the principal (s 11 Powers of Attorney Act).
In a general power of attorney, the principal can appoint one or more attorneys to be either joint or several attorneys (s 13 Powers of Attorney Act).
Revocation of a general power of attorney
A general power of attorney will be revoked:
- by a document revoking it
- if the principal becomes of impaired capacity (ss 17–18 Powers of Attorney Act).
Being of impaired capacity does not just mean that the person cannot communicate. In a case where the person is still capable but is not able to communicate their decisions, the Supreme Court is empowered to confirm that the power of attorney remains in full force and effect if the court is satisfied that the continuation of the attorney is for the benefit of the principal.
A general power of attorney will also come to an end if the principal dies or if it is revoked by the terms of the power of attorney (e.g. if the power of attorney is expressed to operate for or during a specified period, at the end of that period it is revoked) (ss 19–20 Powers of Attorney Act).
When revoking a general power of attorney, the principal must take reasonable steps to advise each attorney affected by the revocation. In the event that the general power of attorney has been registered, it must be deregistered (s 16 Powers of Attorney Act).
A general power of attorney can also be revoked by the attorney, for example if the attorney resigns, becomes a person who has impaired capacity, becomes bankrupt or dies (ss 21–24 Powers of Attorney Act).