What Is a Power of Attorney and Why It’s Important

Power of Attorney or POA in Singapore what does it mean and why it's important

You may have heard of the term Power of Attorney, or more commonly known as POA for short. POA This is a written authorization for someone to represent or act on another’s behalf - usually in private affairs, business or legal matters.

Why is POA important in property? Say if you're being posted overseas for a few years and decide to rent out your house in Singapore to someone else. Managing your property from abroad can be extremely cumbersome as you need to make expensive international calls and send courier documents back and forth.

So instead of that, you can get a lawyer to draw up a POA for you before you leave Singapore. The POA would enable you to authorised someone close to you — be it your relative or close friend — to manage everything for you on your behalf. These include appointing an agent, securing tenants, signing agreements, collecting rent and negotiating renewal terms.

 

What exactly is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney (PoA) is basically an instrument where someone appoints another person to act on their behalf for legal matters. The one who creates the POA is called the “donor”, and the one appointed is called the “donee”. POAs can vary in the powers that are conferred on the donee, and what powers are given depend on the kind of POA.

 

The different types of POA 

There are a few types of POAs, and each has its own district feature. POAs are used in a wide variety of transactions. 

General Power of Attorney

A general POA gives the donee authority to act on behalf of the donor in all situations, unless specifically restricted by the POA. It confers various powers, and includes accessing bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, buying and selling property, and debt collection, to name a few.

These POAs are valid until revoked by the donor, or the donor’s death/incapacitation. They can also be revoked on the occurrence of an event specified within the POA.

Specific Power of Attorney

These POAs, as their name suggests, confer authority only over specific matters. They are also valid until revoked, or when an event specified in the POA occurs.

Lasting Power of Attorney

This POA allows a person who is 21 years of age or older to plan how their affairs will be managed if they become mentally incapacitated. The donor appoints one or more donees to act, and make decisions on their behalf in the event of a loss of mental capacity. The donee is given the authority to make decisions concerning things such as the donor’s personal welfare, property, or finances.

Due to the powers that are granted in this POA, it needs to be certified by a certificate issuer. The issuer can be either a practising lawyer, psychiatrist, or accredited medical practitioner.  

HDB Power of Attorney

This is the most common type of POA in Singapore. This is required when someone is unable to attend the key collection appointment after buying a flat. It is also commonly used in the signing of legal documents where one is unable to personally attend the signing. These documents include:

  • Sales agreement
  • Option to Purchase
  • Lease Agreement
  • Deed of Assignment
  • Lease-in-Escrow
  • Mortgage-in-Escrow

Do I need a lawyer to create a POA?

Not necessarily, but you should get one. Since creating a POA concerns legal procedures and issues of the law, it’s better to engage a lawyer to help in the drafting and signing. And never ever download a POA document online - it may not be recognised in the court of law, nor cover your specific needs. By engaging a lawyer, you can be sure the final document will cater to your needs, and be legally sound.

In the case of an HDB POA, a lawyer is required to prepare the document.

 

What are the conditions for executing a POA?

For a POA to be valid and enforceable, a person must be:

  1. Over the age of 21
  2. Not an undischarged bankrupt
  3. Mentally capable

A person is defined as lacking mental capacity if they are unable to make decisions for themselves due to any mental impairments or disturbances. This is further defined under the Mental Capacity Act, where a person is unable to make a decision for themselves if they are unable to:

  1. understand the information relevant to the decision;
  2. retain that information;
  3. use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision; or
  4. communicate his decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means).

 

What else does a POA need to be enforceable?

A POA needs to be drafted in clear and precise language that leaves no room for doubt. Whatever powers that are to be granted to the donee must also be explicitly stated. If you want your donee to be able to sell your flat for you, your POA should state that they are authorized to sign documents and attend meetings on your behalf. HDB, in particular, has its own set of criteria and format for a POA.

The POA must then be signed in the presence of a lawyer (if the signing is overseas, in the presence of a Notary Public or Singapore Consular Officer). The lawyer, Notary Public or Consular Officer acts as the witness, and must verify that the donor has both legal and mental capacity. They will then sign a certificate that affirms the PoA has been executed properly.

Finally, the POA needs to be deposited at the High Court of Singapore for registration. The POA can be then be searched by any party who is asked to accept it, and verify that it is valid and subsisting, and has not been revoked.

 

I need an HDB POA. How do I get one?

Most law firms can perform this for you, as it is a fairly standard procedure. Depending on what you need, the lawyer will prepare one of the following types:

  • Purchase, Sub-letting and General Management
  • Sale, Sub-Letting and General Management
  • Sub-Letting and General Management

You will need to provide the following details to the lawyer:

  1. Full name of flat owner as per NRIC
  2. Full name of the attorney as per NRIC
  3. Full address of the HDB flat in question

Once the document has been drafted, witnessed and signed, the lawyer will then file the PoA with the Supreme Court. After it has been registered, you will need to submit one of the following to HDB:

  • Original POA + 1 photocopy
  • Certified true copy from the High Court + 1 photocopy
  • 2 certified true copies of the POA by an Advocate and Solicitor
  • A letter from the solicitor confirming that the standard format for POA provided by HDB has been used
  • Certified true copy by an Advocate and Solicitor together with the computer printout with the High Court seal. This is required in cases where POA has been registered through the Electronic Filing System

And with that, you have your HDB POA ready to go.

If you’re getting a POA for property purchases, check out our guides:

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