Granting Authority: Special Power of Attorney Philippines Basics

A Special Power of Attorney (SPA) is an important legal document that allows you to appoint another person to make certain decisions or act on your behalf. Whether you need someone to handle real estate transactions, manage your bank account, or make medical decisions if you are incapacitated, a properly written SPA can provide you with peace of mind that your affairs are in good hands.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through everything you need to know about the Special Power of Attorney in the Philippines – from what it is, to how to create one, choose an attorney-in-fact, and use it effectively within the limits of Philippine law. Follow along for tips, examples, and expert advice so you can feel fully prepared to use this powerful legal tool.

What is a Special Power of Attorney in Philippines?

A Special Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives one person (the principal) the power to designate another person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) to handle specific legal, financial or medical responsibilities for them. The power given is limited only to the particular situation or transaction outlined in the SPA document.

This differs from a General Power of Attorney where the agent is granted very broad powers over the principal’s affairs. With an SPA, the scope is narrow and focused on authorizing actions related to a specific scenario, such as selling a house.

Legally, the concept of special power of attorney is enshrined in the Civil Code of the Philippines under Articles 1878-1879. It permits a principal to confer specific authorities to an agent for acts done in the principal’s name.

Uses and Applications of SPA

There are many situations where granting special power of attorney can be extremely useful:

Real Estate Transactions

SPA is commonly used when buying, selling or managing real estate in the Philippines. The principal can appoint an agent to do tasks like:

  • Sign documents for property purchases or sales
  • Attend meetings with brokers or government agencies
  • Manage property transfers and registration

Financial / Banking Matters

Special powers can authorize another person to handle your financial affairs:

  • Withdraw, deposit, transfer funds into bank accounts
  • Apply for loans and sign loan documents
  • Engage in stock trading or investments
  • File taxes on your behalf

Legal Representation

If you cannot physically attend a court hearing or other legal proceeding, special power allows someone to stand in and represent you:

  • Attend court hearings when you cannot be present
  • Sign legal documents requiring your signature
  • Act as your legal representative in matters like immigration or business registration

Healthcare / Medical Decisions

Should you become incapacitated, an SPA can grant someone the power to make healthcare choices per your wishes:

  • Gain access to your medical records
  • Make choices about medical treatment and procedures
  • Handle admissions into healthcare facilities
  • Make end-of-life decisions if you are unable to do so

The specific authorities granted will depend on your unique situation and needs. The SPA simply provides the legal right for your agent to conduct necessary tasks in your stead.

Creating a Special Power of Attorney

Drafting a legally valid SPA in the Philippines requires including certain elements:

Essential Content

  • Name and personal details of the Principal
  • Name and details of the Agent being appointed
  • The specific powers being granted to the Agent
  • Any limits, conditions or restrictions on the Agent’s authority
  • Effective date for when the SPA comes into force
  • Expiration date for when the SPA is no longer valid
  • Statement that the Principal may revoke the SPA at any time
  • Principal’s signature

Drafting the SPA Document

Follow these basic steps:

  1. Identify the Principal and the Agent. Full legal names, addresses, contact details.
  2. Specify the powers granted. Use clear, unambiguous language. Describe the exact authorities being granted.
  3. Note any limitations or expiry. Are there any acts the Agent cannot do? When does the SPA expire?
  4. Indicate right of revocation. State that the Principal can revoke the SPA anytime.
  5. Get it notarized. To make legally enforceable, the SPA must be notarized.
  6. Sign and date. Principal must sign and date with witnesses present.

Legal Requirements

To make an SPA legally binding under Philippine law, certain formalities must be followed:

  • The SPA document must clearly state the powers being granted and any limits.
  • It must be signed by the Principal in front of a notary public or Philippine consular officer.
  • The Principal’s signature must match any existing specimen signature on record.
  • At least one witness must be present when signed and also sign to affirm.

Complying with these requirements ensures the SPA can stand up to legal scrutiny.

Creating a Special Power of Attorney

Choosing Your Attorney-in-Fact

Picking the right agent to entrust with special power of attorney is obviously very important. Here are key considerations:

  • Trustworthiness. Choose someone with integrity who will honor your best interests.
  • Ability. Make sure they are capable of handling the powers you wish to grant.
  • Availability. They should be readily available to carry out the SPA when needed.
  • Acceptance. Only appoint someone who fully understands and accepts the duties.
  • Scope limitations. Specify exactly what powers are and are not granted. Do not provide blanket authorities.

Your attorney-in-fact carries legal responsibility to act in good faith on your behalf. Granting sweeping, unchecked powers can be dangerous, so define the scope carefully.

Legal Considerations and Limitations

While an SPA provides extensive power, it is still subject to certain legal limitations:

  • No absolute powers. An SPA cannot give absolute power or complete custody over one’s affairs.
  • Powers must be specific. General, vague or ambiguous powers may not be enforceable.
  • Self-interest transactions prohibited. An agent cannot abuse the SPA for personal gain.
  • Principal can revoke anytime. The principal has the right to revoke SPA at any time.
  • Time limitations. An SPA may expire after a defined period of time.
  • Legal action if abused. Misuse of an SPA can be considered fraud and prosecuted.

Understanding these boundaries provides protection against potential abuse. Set reasonable restrictions to avoid problems down the line.

Real-life SPA Examples and Case Studies

To better illustrate SPA use cases, here are two real-life examples from the Philippines:

Example 1 – Overseas Real Estate Purchase

Alberto was a Filipino expatriate in Canada who wanted to buy an investment property in Manila. As he could not travel to the Philippines himself, Alberto granted SPA to his brother Rolando to act as his representative for the purchase. The SPA authorized Rolando to sign paperwork, attend meetings with the broker and register the property under Alberto’s name. This allowed Rolando to smoothly facilitate the real estate transaction on Alberto’s behalf.

Example 2 – Medical Decisions for Elderly Parent

Celia was the primary caregiver for her elderly mother who had dementia. Wanting to ensure her mom’s healthcare wishes were respected if anything happened to her, Celia was granted SPA to access medical records, consult with doctors, and make treatment decisions on her mother’s behalf. This provided legal authority for Celia to act as her mother’s medical representative.

In both cases, the SPAs provided the critical legal authorization needed by relatives to act responsibly on behalf of their family members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Special Power of Attorney in the Philippines:

Is an SPA legally valid in the Philippines?

Yes, special power of attorney is authorized under Philippine law. To be valid, it must be signed by the principal and notarized.

How long does an SPA last?

An SPA may specify an expiry date, or remain in effect indefinitely until revoked by the principal. Most are valid for 1-2 years.

Can the principal revoke an SPA at any time?

Yes, the principal may revoke the SPA in writing at any time as long as they have legal capacity to do so.

Can an SPA transfer property ownership?

No, an SPA only grants agency powers. Property can be managed but ownership cannot be transferred.

Is my SPA valid outside the Philippines?

Maybe. Some countries recognize Philippine SPAs but some may require additional documentation.

Can I use a Philippine SPA if I live abroad?

Filipino citizens can utilize a Philippine SPA even if they are based overseas. However, foreign countries may impose additional requirements.

An experienced attorney can advise on proper use of SPAs for your specific cross-border needs.


A carefully crafted Special Power of Attorney is a potent legal instrument that enables you to empower a trusted agent to act on your behalf. While extremely useful in the right circumstances, you must take care to clearly document the powers granted, impose reasonable limits, and select your attorney-in-fact wisely.

We hope this comprehensive guide has shed light on everything you need to know to effectively utilize SPAs in the Philippines. The examples, tips and advice provided aim to help you protect your best interests when creating a special power of attorney.

As always, it’s recommended to consult a qualified attorney if you need assistance drafting an SPA tailored to your unique requirements under Philippine law. With the right preparation, you can have peace of mind that your important affairs are in capable hands.