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A deed poll (plural: deeds poll) is a legal document binding on a single person or several persons acting jointly to express an intention or create an obligation. It is a deed, and not a contract because it binds only one party.
The term "deed", also known in this context as a "specialty", is common to signed written undertakings not supported by consideration: the seal (even if not a literal wax seal but only a notional one referred to by the execution formula, "signed, sealed and delivered", or even merely "executed as a deed") is deemed to be the consideration necessary to support the obligation. "Poll" is an archaic legal term referring to documents with straight edges; these distinguished a deed binding only one person from one affecting more than a single person (an "indenture", so named during the time when such agreements would be written out repeatedly on a single sheet, then the copies separated by being irregularly torn or cut, i.e. "indented", so that each party had a document with corresponding tears, to discourage forgery).
Use for changing name
The most common use is a name change through a deed of change of name (often referred to simply as a deed poll). Deeds poll are used for this purpose in countries including most of the United Kingdom except Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In the UK, a deed poll can also be used to change a child's name, as long as everyone with parental responsibility for the child consents to it and the child does not object to it. The child's parents execute the deed poll on the child's behalf. In some other jurisdictions, a person may simply start using a new name without any formal legal process. The usual requirements are that the new name must be used exclusively and that the change must not be made with the intent to defraud. In English law, a person must notify every creditor of a change of name by deed poll.
Another common use is to partition land. This form of deed poll is commonly used in Hong Kong.
Bonds and powers of attorney are examples of deeds poll. A will is not a deed poll, not being made under seal, and being subject to separate statutory requirements.
- "Change your name by deed poll - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
- "Changing your name by deed poll". citizensinformation.ie. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
- "Changing your name". AdviceGuide UK. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- "Births Deaths and Marriages : Deed poll searches (pre-2000)". www.justice.tas.gov.au. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- "Deed poll". Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria. Retrieved 2 March 2021.