A power of attorney is a written document appointing someone to act on your behalf as your agent. Powers of attorney allow another person, such as your attorney or another trusted person, to manage personal and financial transactions. For example, your agent could lease properties for you or work with your bank to get a loan. If you have mobility problems, are frequently out of the country, expect to be in the hospital or are in another situation in which you need someone to complete transactions on your behalf, a power of attorney could be very helpful.
In The Bahamas, standard powers of attorney expire when you die or when you become mentally incompetent. As a result, many people also have – or only have – an enduring power of attorney (EPOA) document. Like a power of attorney, this is a written document that allows another person to act as your agent. Unlike a power of attorney, an EPOA is still effective if you become mentally incompetent. In fact, an EPOA can specify in its terms that it only becomes effective if you do become mentally incompetent.
Any adult person can make an EPOA as long as he understands its effect and is of sound mind. The EPOA can specify the powers that the agent will assume or be worded more broadly to encompass powers that may not be anticipated. In The Bahamas, EPOAs do not cover decisions relating to personal care or healthcare, only decisions as to property. People can create as many EPOAs as they want, but all EPOAs must be signed by you and witnesses, verified, and registered with the Supreme Court Registry of The Bahamas.
The agent named in an EPOA must be over 18 years old. You may name more than one agent. If there are multiple agents, the EPOA can state whether they must act jointly, jointly and severally (they can act together or separately), or severally (the agents can act separately). Once properly completed, EPOAs last for your lifetime, until the agent(s) die or cannot act as agents, or until you in sound mind revoke (take back) the EPOA – whichever occurs first. The statutory authority and rules regarding EPOAs and standard powers of attorney is contained in the Powers of Attorney Act and Powers of Attorney Rules.
EPOAs and even standard powers of attorney ensure that your affairs will be carried out while you are alive. An EPOA can provide great peace of mind should you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs at any time in the future. If you have significant business interests, property holdings, or financial obligations, you may want to consider executing an enduring power of attorney.
To find out more about powers of attorney in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.