Power of Attorney
Is when an individual appoints a representative (referred to as an ‘attorney’) for financial matters.
Powers of attorney are a simple and effective way to appoint someone to act on your behalf in relation to financial matters if you are unable to attend to such matters yourself.
Powers of attorney can be used to appoint a representative to act on your behalf in the event you ever lose mental capacity. This is called an enduring power of attorney.
Powers of attorney can also be used to appoint a representative for a short term period if you are unable to conduct your financial affairs yourself for any reason. This may be necessary if you are travelling overseas or you are out of town. This is called a general power of attorney.
The person who you have appointed as your attorney is empowered to act in relation to financial matters only. So the attorney may deal with your money, bank accounts, property, shares and other assets.
Your attorney can only act to the extent of the authority granted to him or her under the Power of Attorney document and they must act in your best interests at all times.
If necessary you can limit the powers of your attorney to only act in certain matters. If this is your wish, the power of attorney document needs to expressly set out how and when the attorney can act and should specify any limits or conditions on the attorney’s power.
You can use an Appointment of Enduring Guardian to select an enduring guardian.
An enduring guardian is able to step in and make decisions on your behalf about personal matters such as medical, health and lifestyle issues that may arise. This can include deciding your place of residency and health and medical treatments.
An enduring guardianship becomes operative if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions.
You can provide directions to your enduring guardian and specify which decisions you want them to make.
Who can I appoint as my enduring guardian or attorney?
You can appoint anyone over the age of 18. Your Enduring Guardian or Attorney should be someone you trust implicitly who understands your wishes well. For example your spouse, a close friend or family member. You could also ask your solicitor, financial advisor or other professional, but they generally charge a fee for services performed as your attorney.
You can appoint more than one attorney or more than one enduring guardian if you wish. In this case, you should specify whether they can act jointly and/or severally in their appointment.
It’s a good idea to discuss your plans with the person you wish to appoint as your attorney or guardian to ensure that they are happy to take on this role, before you draw up the paperwork.