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Power of Attorney

What is a power of attorney?
Registration
Types of power of attorney
Making a power of attorney
Who can witness?
Obtaining forms and costs
Time limits
Withdrawing the power of attorney
Using a power of attorney

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document by which a person (called the principal or donor) appoints another (the attorney or donee) as their representative for certain purposes. A person travelling overseas may, for instance, grant a power of attorney to a relative or friend who can then access the traveller’s bank to pay his or her bills.

A power of attorney can be granted to anyone who has the legal capacity to do whatever needs to be done. For example, if a contract needs to be signed, the donee must be someone over 18 years of age. Matters relating to powers of attorney are regulated by the Powers of Attorney Act.

Laws allowing for enduring powers of attorney were repealed in 2014.  For information about how to make decisions about your future health, financial and lifestyle preferences should you lose decision-making capacity whether as a result of age, illness, accident or otherwise, view the Advance Personal Planning website to learn more.

Registration

Registration of a power of attorney ensures a copy of the document is held in a public place. Any power of attorney may be registered as long as it meets the requirements of the Powers of Attorney Act. Registration is mandatory in some cases including cases where:

To register a Power of Attorney in the Northern Territory, two original documents should be lodged at the Registrar-General’s Office (Land Titles Office) and a fee paid.  If lodging an original and a photocopy, the photocopy must be an exact reproduction of the original instrument and contain a certification on each page stating it is a true and complete copy of the original Power of Attorney instrument.  Certification can only be undertaken by the donor of the power or by a legal practitioner.

Note: All Registrar-General forms are required to be printed double sided.  If a form is printed over two pages or more, a non-standard fee will apply.  Please refer to the Land Title Office forms fee schedule.

Types of powers of attorney

Powers can be given under a power of attorney for:

It is also possible to limit a power of attorney by only allowing it to be exercised in certain circumstances such as:

Making a power of attorney

In most cases, special words and forms are not needed, although standard forms are available. If the power of attorney is to be registered, the standard form set out in the Powers of Attorney Regulations should be used. The form can be downloaded from this webpage.

Individuals who write their own power of attorney must ensure the power is properly drafted; a small mistake in the document can make it ineffective, so it is recommended that it be checked by a lawyer.

The Public Trustee’s Office can also be contacted for the preparation of powers of attorney where the Public Trustee is the donee (attorney).

Who can witness?

All power of attorney forms require to be witnessed by a qualified witness eg. Commissioner of Oaths, Justice of the Peace, Police officer, Solicitor.

The donee is required to place a specimen signature on the document. He or she cannot sign as a witness.

A person who cannot sign a power of attorney due to disability or illiteracy can ask another adult, who cannot also be a witness, to sign on his or her behalf. This is called a power of attorney by direction (Form 98). In such a case, two witnesses, neither of whom can be the donee, are required.

Where to obtain a form

Power of Attorney forms can be obtained from a Land Titles Office or downloaded from this website. Notes on the back of the form can guide you in completing the form. Powers of Attorney forms are usually lodged in duplicate.

How much does it cost?
See the Fees Schedule for the relevant fee regarding:

Time limits

A power of attorney lasts:

Withdrawing the power of attorney

A power of attorney can be revoked by:

If the power of attorney is registered, the Registrar-General must be notified should any of the above events occur. A donor who revokes a power must give notice in accordance with the Act (Form 99) and pay the specified registration fee.

Using a power of attorney

A power of attorney is entirely discretionary. It does not compel the donee to act upon it.

A power of attorney can only be used in the manner granted. A donee who steps outside the boundaries of his or her authority may be liable to pay compensation if the donor suffers loss as a consequence.

The powers given under a power of attorney can only be transferred to a third person if the document specifies a power of delegation.

Where a document is signed on the donor’s behalf using a power of attorney, the donee can use his or her own name and signature, but must note he or she is acting as attorney.

A power of attorney can be used overseas when it complies with the host country’s requirements. Information about a country’s requirements can be obtained from that country's Consulate or High Commission or Embassy. In most countries, documents have to be witnessed by a Notary Public and stamped by the Department of Foreign Affairs (for a fee) and the foreign country’s consulate. Notaries Public are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book.

Acknowledgment
Some of this material is based on information from The Law Handbook, second edition, May 1997 Darwin Community Legal Service, the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission

 

For Further Information email RegistrarGeneral.DOJ@nt.gov.au

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