Power of Attorneys (POAs) are a valuable way to allow one person to transact property on behalf of another person – but they can be rendered useless if they contain incorrect details.
In a recent settlement case, for example, Mrs Brigham (names changed) was selling a property on behalf of Ms Jones, who had given Mrs Brigham enduring Power of Attorney some years ago.
Mrs Brigham listed Ms Jones’ property for sale with a real estate agent, accepted an offer from a buyer, and proceeded towards settlement.
However, when the contract came into the office and I conducted a search of the Power of Attorney, I discovered the seller’s name on the Power of Attorney was different from the name on the Certificate of Title. While the name on the Power of Attorney was listed as Jess Jones, the name on the Title was Jessica Grace Jones.
Legally, these names are not the same and as a result, we are unable to continue processing the settlement until the details on the Power of Attorney match those on the Title.
Amending a Power of Attorney can be a difficult process. If the donor (in this case, Ms Jones), has legally lost capacity, they can no longer cancel or create a new Power of Attorney and the donee will need to pursue other avenues to have their details amended.
As a result, settlement is likely to be delayed for an extended period of time. To prevent such problems going undetected until settlement, search the POA at the time of listing a property involving a Power of Attorney. By doing so, you can identify potential problems early in the transaction and save yourself and your client from hassle during the settlement process.
Image by Charlotte L via Flickr.