Power of Attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent. The power may be limited to a particular activity or be general in application. The power may give temporary or permanent authority to act on your behalf. A power of attorney or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal, grantor, or donor. The one authorized to act is the agent, attorney, or done. The duty of a notary public in drafting a power of attorney in Cameroon is quite unique.
Types of Power of Attorney
There are 6 types of power of attorney which are all subject to the drafting duty of a notary public in Cameroon. They are as follows;
- Durable Power of Attorney: This type of Power of Attorney means the agent’s authority to act on behalf of the donor continues even after the donor becomes incapacitated.
- Non-durable Power of Attorney: This type of Power of Attorney is to the effect that the agent’s power to act ends if the donor becomes incapacitated.
- Springing Power of Attorney: This power of attorney means it becomes effective immediately and the agent can start exercising the powers granted him/her right away.
- General Power of Attorney: According to this type of Power of Attorney, the agent is authorized to act in all situations as long as they are in accordance with the local laws.
- Financial Power of Attorney: This type of power of attorney is considered a special type of limited power of attorney in Cameroon because it gives the agent the authority to act on behalf of the donor in financial-related matters.
- Medical Power of Attorney: This type of power of attorney is also called healthcare Power of Attorney. It is another type of limited Power of Attorney which empowers the agent to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the donor.
Notarizing a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney in Cameroon needs to be signed in front of a licensed notary public in Cameroon in order to be legally binding. The duty of the notary public in drafting a power of attorney in Cameroon can be illustrated in the following aspects;
- Verify the identity of the donor/signer,
- Ensure they are signing of their own free will,
- Witness the signing.
The notary public is a representative of the state government when it concerns notarizing a power of attorney in Cameroon.
Disinterest versus Fiduciary Duty
A notary public in Cameroon serves as a disinterested party when drafting a Power of Attorney document. This means that he/she does not play an active role in the legal or personal affairs of parties who utilize his/her services.
An attorney who drafts a Power of Attorney and an agent who executes the power of attorney each form a fiduciary relationship with the principal that is both parties must act in the best interest of the principal in executing their duties.
Certifying versus Drafting
Drafting of documents such as a power of attorney is one of the tasks assigned to a licensed attorney. Attorneys use their legal education and experience in the areas of law that they practice to ensure that the documents they draft are legally valid.
In witnessing the signature of a document, a notary is only responsible for determining the authenticity of the signature rather than the validity of the document or its content whilst in drafting a document such as a power of attorney, the attorney is responsible for ensuring that the contents of the document uphold the interests of the client as much as possible.
Prohibitions and Limitations
As a disinterested party, a notary is prohibited by law from being a party to a deposition he/she certifies or for any document whose signature he/she witnesses.
A notary is also prohibited from witnessing or certifying documents, including powers of attorney, in which she is either the principal or the agent.