Monday. 27.03.2023

Power of attorney, basic authorization to supervise someone's interests


A power of attorney (PoA) is an authorization with which a person can designate someone to take care of their matters and supervise their interests when they are not able to do so due to, for example, an illness or non-conscious state.

People usually get surprised when they discover that even a close relationship to someone does not automatically entitle them to take care of the person’s matters. This occurs even when the person interested in having their things handled are not able to cope themselves or have access to non-public information concerning the authorizing person.

When drafting the PoA, the authorizing person can include precise orders to the PoA regarding how they wish their matters to be taken care of or how they wish their property to be managed. It is possible also to deny the authorized not to take certain actions or require them to seek an approval to act in certain way (for example a sale of certain asset or assets).

The PoA should always be tailored to the needs and wishes of the authorizing part. The authorized person can be, for example, an adult child of the authorizing one part, provided that they accept the task.

The original PoA must be carefully stored and government authorities ca not store it on one’s behalf. It can given to the authorized person or it can be kept in a trustworthy location such as a safe deposit box in a bank and ensure that the authorized person can access the document when needed.

How and when it should be drafted

The PoA can be drafted any time but it is recommended to have it ready well before it is actually needed. For example suffering a serious injury in an accident or of a memory illness may obstruct one to give the said authorization. In worst case scenario, people may lose their capability to make legally binding decisions very fast.

It is important to emphasize that authorization can only be given by a person who understands the content of the PoA and what it means.

It should be noticed that the PoA must always be done in writing and it has to fulfill certain formalities. For example, the PoA must be signed by neutral witnesses. The witnesses must know that the document is a PoA, but there is no obligation to inform the witnesses of the document's scope.

The PoA can and should be updated if and when the circumstances change within time. Old versions of a PoA can be destroyed or the new versions can include a clause revoking the old ones. When the PoA is needed, Digital and Population Data Services Agency must verify the PoA. The authorized person also needs a medical statement finding the authorizing person incapable to take care of their personal matters.

People can draft a PoA by themselves but it is highly recommendable to allow an expert draft it instead. If done in a do-it-yourself -method, the worst outcome may be that the PoA may not be verified for instance due to the use of not neutral witnesses.

Power of attorney, basic authorization to supervise someone's interests