Have you ever considered what would happen if you were suddenly in a condition where you were unable to make decisions for yourself? Who would you trust to manage your finances and sign legal documents on your behalf?

Choosing the right person to act on your behalf is not a decision to be made lightly and it’s important to document your choice in the right way.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is an important legal document that allows you to nominate one or more persons (referred to as ‘attorneys’ but not be confused with solicitors) to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf.

Subject to specific powers or limitations you place on the document, your attorney has the power to manage your affairs, including buying or selling real estate, paying bills and withdrawing funds from your bank account.

General Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney?

A General Power of Attorney allows your attorney to manage legal and financial matters on your behalf, but only while you have the ability to instruct them. For example, you may need to rely on your attorney while you are staying in hospital for a short period of time or while travelling overseas.

If you lose your mental capacity and the ability to understand the nature and effect of your actions, a General Power of Attorney ceases to have effect.

However, an Enduring Power of Attorney continues to operate even if you have lost your mental capacity to make decisions and the ability to instruct your attorney. Your attorney will continue to act in your best interests and make decisions on your behalf in accordance with the terms of the powers granted in the document.

Who should I appoint as my attorney?

The attorney you appoint to make financial decisions on your behalf must be someone you trust completely as they will be making important decisions. They must be over the age of 18 and must not be bankrupt or insolvent.

You can decide to appoint more than one Attorney to act together either jointly (must act together at all times) or jointly and severally (they can act either jointly or independently).

Why do I need an Enduring Power of Attorney?

Without an Enduring Power of Attorney, the Guardianship Tribunal may appoint a financial manager to look after your affairs. This may cause unnecessary costs and delays and, most importantly, they may appoint someone who you don’t want looking after you.

Don’t lose the opportunity to make these important decisions for yourself. Contact our Wills & Estates team for advice about preparation of an Enduring Power of Attorney.

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The articles on this website comprise legal general information and not legal advice. The general information presented here must not be relied upon without legal advice being sought. In the event that you wish to obtain legal advice on the contents of this general information you may do so by contacting our office or your existing solicitor.