A power of attorney (POA) is an important legal document that authorizes an individual or organization to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of POAs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – explaining the different types available, how to create a legally valid POA, the associated rights and responsibilities, and more.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A POA grants legal authority to another trusted person, called your “agent”, to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own personal, financial, or health matters. It allows someone to handle critical affairs like paying bills, managing investments, operating a business, making medical decisions, and signing legal documents without needing to consult you each time.
You (as the one granting authority) are known as the “principal” in the POA agreement. The document is completely customizable, enabling you to specify the exact powers you wish to delegate and any limitations. For instance, you may choose to grant narrow powers over a specific bank account rather than full control over all finances.
“A power of attorney is not a gift of power, it is a delegation of trust.” – Denis Brodeur, estate planning lawyer
Having a POA in place ensures that your essential affairs can continue to be managed seamlessly if you ever find yourself incapable of doing so personally – whether due to an accident, sudden illness, military deployment, travel abroad, or aging complications.
Why Have a POA in the UAE?
There are several key reasons for putting a POA in place while living in the UAE:
- Convenience when traveling abroad frequently for business or leisure
- Peace of mind if suddenly incapacitated – avoids court intervention that may be needed to resolve commercial disputes
- Best option for expats without family locally to step in
- Language barriers can be overcome by naming an Arabic-proficient agent
- Ensures your wishes are carried out in line with UAE laws
- Avoids disputes over decision-making authority within families
- Assets can be easily managed while abroad long-term
Types of POAs in the UAE
There are several types of POAs available in the UAE, with different implications and usages:
General Power of Attorney
A general POA provides the broadest powers allowable by UAE law. The agent is authorized to carry out almost any act regarding your affairs as you could do personally. This includes powers to buy or sell property, manage financial accounts, file taxes, enter contracts, make investments, handle litigation or debts, and more. However, some exceptions apply around topics like changing or writing a will.
Limited/Specific Power of Attorney
Alternatively, you can specify a limited or specific scope for your agent’s powers based on your needs:
- Banking/finance POA – manage bank accounts, investments, pay bills
- Business POA – operating decisions, contracts, transactions
- Real estate POA – sell, rent, or mortgage properties
- Healthcare POA – medical decisions, insurance matters
- Child guardianship POA – care, medical, education choices for kids
Durable Power of Attorney
A standard POA becomes invalid if you become incapacitated. A “durable” POA explicitly states it shall stay effective even if you later become incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This is crucial to still allowing your agent to keep managing essential financial, property, and healthcare matters on your behalf.
Springing Power of Attorney
In contrast, you can make a POA “springing” – where the agent’s authority only comes into effect once an activating event occurs, usually your incapacity being confirmed by one or more doctors. This can give additional control to specify the exact conditions.
Creating a Valid POA in UAE
To create a legally enforceable POA in the UAE, whether general or specific, durable or springing, follow these key steps:
1. Document Format
The POA document must follow the standard format used in the UAE, being written originally in Arabic or legally translated if created in English or other languages initially.
2. Signature & Date
You (as the principal) must physically sign and date the POA document in wet ink, along with your named agent(s). Digital or electronic signatures cannot be used.
The POA document must be notarized and stamped by an approved UAE Notary Public to be considered valid. This also requires your physical presence.
Finally, register the POA document at the Notary Public office to activate it for use. Your agent can then use the original to prove their authority.
If correctly completed with an authorized UAE Notary Public, your POA will be legally valid across all seven emirates. The exact requirements vary slightly by exact emirate: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah & Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah & Fujairah
Rights & Responsibilities
When creating and using a POA in the UAE, both you (the principal) and your agent have important legal rights and responsibilities, including:
Principal Rights & Responsibilities
- Revoke the POA if desired – must provide written notice
- Demand records of all transactions conducted
- Take back authority at any time directly or via court
- Carefully pick an agent you fully trust to avoid disputes or abuse
Agent Rights & Responsibilities
- Carry out wishes and responsibilities as outlined
- Maintain detailed financial records
- Avoid co-mingling their funds with the principal
- Act with honesty, integrity and in the best interest of principal
- Report any issues preventing duties being performed
Using POAs in UAE: FAQs
Confused about how exactly POAs work in the UAE in practice? Here are answers essential questions:
Can a POA be used to sell the principal’s property or transfer ownership?
Yes, if specifically stated in the POA document’s granted authorities. Both a general POA and real estate specific POA typically enable selling, renting out, or mortgaging the principal’s properties.
Is it possible to create a POA digitally without physically being in UAE?
Unfortunately no – the principal is currently required to sign with wet ink signature before a valid UAE Notary Public per local regulations. Some limited exceptions apply to citizens needing POAs issued when living abroad.
Can I use a POA document from another country in the UAE?
Typically no, unless that country has a specific treaty with the UAE government. POAs made in other countries usually need to be reissued and notarized within the UAE to be usable under Emirates laws. Speak to your consulate.
Can I make changes to my POA document after initially signing and registering it?
Yes, it is possible to amend your POA document after formally issuing and activating the original version. You will need to prepare an amendment document, sign this with your wet ink signature before the Notary Public again, then register the changes at their office.
A power of attorney enables trusted individuals to manage your critical personal, financial legal affairs in the case you become incapacitated or unavailable. It is an important document for responsible adults residing in the UAE to consider having in place – 1whether young or old, healthy or suffering illness.
Be sure to carefully consider the type of POA based on your needs, granting no more powers than necessary. Selecting the right agent is also crucial – name someone fully trustworthy who deeply understands your wishes. Reviewing the document every few years ensures it remains up to date.
With a proper POA set up and registered under the UAE’s legal requirements, you can have true peace of mind your essential affairs will be smoothly handled even when you cannot attend them yourself. Act now to put contingency plans in place.