A power of attorney is a legally binding document which, when properly executed, allows the receiver of the power of attorney (known as the agent) to act on behalf of the grantor in relation to their personal affairs, business decisions or legal representation. A power of attorney can be general in its scope or be limited to specific act(s) or time period(s).
According to various global indices, as of 2019 roughly 90% of the population of the UAE are expatriates. As an expat, you should give your spouse, family member or a trusted friend, a power of attorney to act on your behalf in cases where you are incapable of making decisions or acting for yourself, such as where you are out of the country or are physically incapable of carrying out functions for yourself.
For a power of attorney to be executed in the UAE, it must be either in Arabic, or bilingual – in Arabic and English and certified by a legal translator. The grantor can give the power of attorney to any person provided that they are of legal age and of sound mental capacity. However, given the nature and extent of the powers that the agent will possess, it is recommended that the grantor only appoint a person whom he/she trusts completely, to act as their agent through this instrument.
Power of attorney is used for various reasons, for example, in the courts here, a claimant or defendant gives a power of attorney to their lawyers, allowing them to legally represent the grantor before the court and authorities. Similarly, a person who is not ordinarily residing in the UAE may give a power of attorney to their spouse, or any other person to conduct financial and business transactions on their behalf, to ensure there is no hinderance.
In uncertain times such as these, where one may require accessing their bank accounts, signing or encashing cheques, or other urgent legal formalities, and the person is not present in the country, or is in the hospital and unable to carry out such acts, a power of attorney will allow their agent to seamlessly deal with the authorities.
A power of attorney must contain three main components:
- The complete details of the grantor of the power, which will include his full legal name, nationality, a form of identification (passport number or Emirates ID number, in the case of the UAE) and the capacity in which the power is granted, i.e. personal capacity and/or professional capacity. This is especially useful for persons having their own businesses or sole proprietorship who may wish to give their spouses powers to act for the business as well.
- The complete details of the receiver (agent) of the power, which will include their full legal name, nationality, a form of identification, and may also include their relation to the grantor.
- The scope of the powers granted by the document- this will include the exact nature and scope of the powers being granted to the agent, and the details of the assets/bank accounts in respect of which the power is granted. For example, if the power is being granted for the operation of bank accounts, then the account numbers, the name of the bank where the accounts are held and the complete name of the account holder must be mentioned within the document, so that the bank can verify such details prior to the agent exercising his power, and to prevent fraud.
A power of attorney may be general or specific. Usually, between spouses, a general power of attorney is advisable which allows the spouse to deal with broadly everything in the same manner as their spouse. However, if a power of attorney is being given to a person not being the spouse, parent or child (not minor), then it is strongly advised that a specific power of attorney with a limited scope as to the acts that can be done by the agent be issued, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the power.
In conclusion, the current global situation is a great reminder that life is uncertain and living in a country away from your own can be greatly stressful at such times. In such circumstances, having granted a power of attorney can allow some peace of mind as to the fact that should anything happen which doesn't allow you to do certain acts, your agent would be able to carry out the same for you.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.