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Types of Power of Attorney

What is Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document where a person (the Donor) appoints one or more persons (the Attorney or Attorneys) to act on the Donor's behalf. The Donor must have mental capacity to create a Power of Attorney.

When you register a Power of Attorney with us, we will ask to see the full Power of Attorney document, either the original or a copy certified by a qualified solicitor in Hong Kong.

While we can't provide you with any legal advice, we've put together some information that could help guide you.

What are the main types of Power of Attorney?

General/Specific Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which conveys the appointment of  one or more persons (Attorney or Attorneys) to make financial decisions for you and to carry out everyday transactions on your behalf. It can be either general or specific in nature.

A General Power of Attorney applies to all of your financial affairs, while a Specific Power of Attorney can be limited to specific affairs. They will be automatically revoked or cancelled if the Donor loses mental capacity.

What else do I need to know?

  • A General Power of Attorney can be useful if you need to grant someone authority temporarily, such as while you're on holiday.
  • They must be created in a specific form under section 7 of the Powers of Attorney Ordinance (CAP. 31) as a deed, and the Donor's signature must be witnessed by a qualified solicitor in Hong Kong.
  • We may accept a General / Specific Power of Attorney even if it's more than 12 months old.

For more details, please refer to General Power of Attorney explained.

To see a summary of what your Attorney could do, please visit our  What an Attorney / Delegate can do page.

Enduring Power of Attorney

Like a General / Specific Power of Attorney, it appoints one or more persons (Attorney or Attorneys) to make financial decisions for you and to carry out everyday transactions on your behalf.

However, it will remain valid even after the Donor loses mental capacity.

What else do I need to know?

  • It must be created in a specific form according to the Enduring Power of Attorney Ordinance (CAP. 501).
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney must be registered with the High Court when the Customer is losing or has lost mental capacity, before it can be registered with us. Once it's registered in our records, the Donor's access to their accounts will be removed.

For more details, please refer to Enduring Power of Attorney explained.

To see a summary of what your Attorney could do, please visit our  What an Attorney / Delegate can do page.

Letter of Delegation

Unlike a Power of Attorney, Letter of Delegation is a bank form used within HSBC for you to authorise a third party to give us certain instructions regarding your accounts. 

What else do I need to know?

  • Once a Letter of Delegation is signed, the third party will be able to make financial decisions and carry out transactions on your behalf.
  • It will be cancelled if we're notified that the customer delegating the authority is mentally incapacitated.
  • To set up a Letter of Delegation, both you and your delegate will need to visit us at a branch.

For more details, please refer to Letter of Delegation explained.

To see a summary of what your Attorney could do, please visit our What an Attorney / Delegate can do page.

To learn the difference between a Letter of Delegation and a Power of Attorney, please refer to the table below.

  Power of Attorney Letter of Delegation
Law An established process under the law, backed by the Power of Attorney Ordinance. An operational process offered internally by HSBC.
Documents

The Donor must sign a formal Power of Attorney. They can ask a third party (such as a solicitor) to set this up for them or download and complete the forms themselves.

We require that the document is signed before a qualified solicitor in Hong Kong.

The customer simply signs a Letter of Delegation.
What can the Attorney / Delegate do? Act within the scope of the Power of the Attorney as it has been set out – the powers may be wider or more restricted. Manage the accounts in accordance with the powers set out in the Letter of Delegation.
When might the granted authority end?
  • Upon the death of the Donor
  • Upon the Donor being deemed mentally incapacitated (except in the case of Enduring Powers of Attorney)
  • Upon the Donor ending the Power of Attorney (in which case we must be notified)
  • Upon the death of the customer
  • Upon the customer being deemed mentally incapacitated
  • Upon the customer ending the delegation (this will take at least 4 working days)

To learn the difference between a Letter of Delegation and a Power of Attorney, please refer to the table below.

  Law
Power of Attorney An established process under the law, backed by the Power of Attorney Ordinance.
Letter of Delegation An operational process offered internally by HSBC.
  Documents
Power of Attorney

The Donor must sign a formal Power of Attorney. They can ask a third party (such as a solicitor) to set this up for them or download and complete the forms themselves.

We require that the document is signed before a qualified solicitor in Hong Kong.

Letter of Delegation The customer simply signs a Letter of Delegation.
  What can the Attorney / Delegate do?
Power of Attorney Act within the scope of the Power of the Attorney as it has been set out – the powers may be wider or more restricted.
Letter of Delegation Manage the accounts in accordance with the powers set out in the Letter of Delegation.
  When might the granted authority end?
Power of Attorney
  • Upon the death of the Donor
  • Upon the Donor being deemed mentally incapacitated (except in the case of Enduring Powers of Attorney)
  • Upon the Donor ending the Power of Attorney (in which case we must be notified)
Letter of Delegation
  • Upon the death of the customer
  • Upon the customer being deemed mentally incapacitated
  • Upon the customer ending the delegation (this will take at least 4 working days)

How is mental capacity defined?

Mental capacity can be thought of as the ability to make your own decisions. Mental health problems can affect the way a person thinks, feels and behaves, which in turn may affect their mental capacity.

Generally, mental incapacity refers to an inability to understand the nature and effect of a transaction.