Power of attorney

Introduction

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the legal right to act on your behalf under the law. This person is called the attorney. 

For example, if you are travelling overseas you can give a relative or friend legal right to access your bank account to pay bills.

You can choose when the power of attorney can be used, such as any of the following:

  • only when you are overseas
  • only in the Northern Territory (NT)
  • before you reach a certain age
  • for a limited time, such as six months.

A power of attorney lasts until:

  • you withdraw it
  • it expires
  • you become incapable of managing your own affairs
  • you die.

Read the Power of Attorney Act and regulations.


Types of power of attorney

You can give power of attorney to someone for a specific reason such as any of the following:  

  • paying a bill
  • full access to your bank account
  • signing a document.

You can also give someone full legal right to act on your behalf, also known as a general power of attorney.

Appoint a decision-maker

You can also appoint a decision-maker if you lose your capacity to make your own decisions.

This is known as making an Advanced Personal Plan.

The Advanced Personal Plan replaced enduring power of attorney in the Northern Territory in 2014.


How to make a general power of attorney

You can grant someone general power of attorney by following these steps.

Step 1. 

Write your document.

You can do one of the following:

If you write your own document, you should make sure there are no mistakes otherwise it can be invalid. 

Your document should clearly show all of the following:

  • the date the power was given
  • your name and address
  • the attorney’s name and address
  • what they are allowed to do
  • the attorney’s sample signature.

You can read more information in the regulations.

You should get a lawyer to check it.

Step 2. 

Get your forms witnessed and signed.

This must be by a qualified witness, such as any of the following:

If you can't sign

If you are unable to sign a power of attorney due to a disability or illiteracy, you need a special form called power of attorney by direction.

You must:

  1. Ask another adult to complete the power of attorney by direction form (163.7 kb)  and sign on your behalf. They cannot be a witness.
  2. Get two other qualified witnesses to sign the form.

Registering a power of attorney

Under the law, if your power of attorney will be used to deal with property or land, you must register it with the Land Titles office.

Registering the power of attorney ensures that a copy is kept in a public place.

You must:

  1. Fill out two versions of the power of attorney form (pdf 38 kb).
  2. Pay the fee.
  3. Submit both versions in person or by mail to the Land Titles Office.

If you lodge one original and one photocopy of the document, the photocopy must be an exact copy of the original document.

The photocopy must have a statement from a legal practitioner, or the donor, on each page stating that it is a ‘true and complete copy of the original power of attorney instrument’.

All forms are required to be printed double sided. If not, you will have to pay an extra fee.


Using a power of attorney

Your attorney can only act on your behalf in the way you have granted.

If they use the power in a way you haven’t given them permission to, they can be liable for compensation if you suffer any losses.

The powers can only be transferred to a third person if they have been given power of delegation.

A power of attorney can be used overseas when it is allowed by that country. 

You should contact that country’s consulate, high commission or embassy for more information.


Withdrawing a power of attorney

The power of attorney can be withdrawn at any time by you or the attorney.

If you have registered the power of attorney, you must.

  1. Complete the form to revoke the power of attorney
  2. Pay the fee.
  3. Submit your form and fee to the Land Titles Office.

Power of attorney can also be withdrawn if any of the following happen:

  • if you or the attorney die
  • if you or the attorney become legally incapacitated
  • if the attorney does not want to exercise the power anymore
  • you or your attorney become bankrupt
  • by a Supreme Court order.

Land Titles office contacts

Darwin

GPO Box 3021
Darwin NT 0801

Nichols Place, corner Cavenagh and Bennett Streets,
Darwin NT 0800
Phone: (08) 8999 6520
Fax: (08) 8999 6239
AGD.RegistrarGeneral@nt.gov.au

Alice Springs

PO Box 8043
Alice Springs NT 0871

Centrepoint Building, corner Gregory Terrace and Hartley Street,
Alice Springs NT 0870
Phone: (08) 8951 5339
Fax: (08) 8951 5340
AGD.RegistrarGeneral@nt.gov.au