Using a Power of Attorney Overseas – All You Need To Know
Having businesses, property or other assets overseas can be stressful if you’re unable to travel. During lockdown, we saw a huge increase in the number of people preparing Powers of Attorney in order to pass management of their assets on to someone in-country. If you’re doing this for the first time, what do you need to be aware of?
In this post we will explain:
- What a Power of Attorney is
- Who can witness the POA with you
- How to prepare your POA for use overseas
- What can impact the document validity
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney, or POA, is an agreement in which you pass control over named assets on to your nominated attorney, or attorneys if you appoint more than one person. You can stipulate what powers are given to the attorney and, if you choose, how long it will last.
You are only passing management of the assets over to the nominated parties, not ownership, but it’s still very important that you trust the person or persons to act in your best interests.
Creating a POA can be very useful if you hold property, businesses or finances in another country and feel it would be beneficial for you to have someone in-country to have a managerial role. If there are decisions to be made when you are overseas, your attorney can handle these for you in a legal capacity. This can also include handling a sale of property on your behalf.
Do I need to have a witness to sign my POA?
When you create a POA, you must provide your signature on the document. It must also be witnessed by another party, who will co-sign the document with you. Who can witness you signing the document and co-sign with you depends on where it will be presented.
If you are both creating a POA and presenting within the UK, anyone other than the attorney you are appointing can be your witness. They must provide their signature and print their name and address alongside it. It is a common misconception that it must be a solicitor or Notary Public who witnesses your signature – unless you are presenting your POA in a legal capacity, such as in a court case, this is not required.
Creating a Power of Attorney in the UK for use overseas does change things, however. Most countries now require you to present the original document which has a wet signature from both you and a witnessing solicitor. Therefore, if you are preparing your POA and intend to use it outside of the UK, the first step is to find a solicitor who can co-sign the document with you. You will then be required to legalise the document.
How do I make it legally recognised overseas?
To present a document created in the UK overseas and have it accepted by a foreign authority, it must be legalised in the UK first. This process can also be known as “attestation” or “verification”, though they all essentially relate to the same process.
The steps required to legalise your POA will entirely depend on the country in which you are presenting it. There could be between two and five stages, though the most common general procedures can be split into three stages:
- Apostille at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
- Embassy stamp from the UK-based authority for the destination country (for example the UAE Embassy in London)
- Final verification stamp applied within the destination country (for example the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai)
The requirements to submit your contract will differ depending on your personal circumstances, as well as the document itself. We’d recommend speaking to one of our friendly team of specialists who can advise you based on your needs. Simply drop us an email or use our live chat function to see how we can help!
Does it matter what the POA is being used for?
The purpose of the document can have an impact on who must sign the document, as well as who can be a witness. In some cases, it can also affect the legalisation process.
If you are creating a POA for use in Egypt in order to transfer property, the Egyptian Consulate in the UK will no longer handle these documents. Recent changes in regulations have resulted in the property of sale, including the creation and legalisation of the POA, now being handled entirely within Egypt, even if you are based within the UK.
The UAE differentiates between a Power of Attorney for personal use and company use. The process of preparing the document is the same, but the legalisation differs slightly. There is an increased surcharge at the UAE Embassy in order to legalise a company Power of Attorney document.
A company POA also has further guidelines which must be followed if you are presenting it within China. The signatory on the Power of Attorney must be a director, who is listed on the company’s board of directors. They must also complete the legalisation application form, which is required for all China legalisations, and provide a copy of their passport photo page.
Using your POA within the UK isn’t too complicated as long as you follow the correct guidelines on what is included in the document and who witnesses the signature. Using it outside of the UK however is a different story. With so many variations between destination countries and the purpose of your document, which are too numerous to list, things can get confusing quickly.
Where can I get advice on my Power of Attorney?
If you are creating a POA to present overseas and need some personalised advice on which processes you require, speak to our specialists. We can save you time and money by guiding you through the legalisation procedures, ensuring it’s done right first time.
Simply visit our site and request a personalised quotation based on your requirements. You can also give us a call directly on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, send us a message via WhatsApp on mobile, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.