A Power of Attorney is an important estate planning tool to ensure your financial and legal affairs are appropriately managed.

A Power of Attorney is a document appointing another person or persons to act as your Attorney in relation to your financial and legal affairs. The person or persons you appoint to act as your Attorney must be over the age of 18 years and can be a relative, friend or any other person you have confidence in to manage your legal and financial affairs.

You can choose to execute a General Power of Attorney which may be appropriate for short term appointments, such as, appointing someone to act on your behalf regarding financial and legal affairs if you are overseas. A General Power of Attorney will only be effective for the time period or purpose you have specified. If no time period has been specified, a General Power of Attorney will only cease should you lose capacity. This document need only be witnessed by a person over the age of 18 years.

You can execute an enduring Power of Attorney which will continue to operate in the event you lose capacity. For the purposes of estate planning, and in particular, ensuring certain assets such as businesses can continue should you lose capacity, an Enduring Power of Attorney is appropriate. This document will only become effective once your signature has been witnessed by a prescribed witness, such as a solicitor and the appointed Attorney accept their appointment by signing the document. You can choose the commencement date, including that it only be utilised by your appointed attorney if and when you lose capacity as determined by your Attorney or a medical practitioner.

A Power of Attorney will also provide peace of mind should you become ill, hospitalised or incapable of attending to your financial and legal affairs. For example, you may be of sound mind however; you may be unable to attend your bank in person due your health. An executed Power of Attorney would allow your appointed Attorney to attend to your banking needs on your behalf.

A Power of Attorney also provides certainty as to whom will conduct your legal and financial affairs should you lose capacity. In the absence of such a document, your loved ones may encounter difficulties trying to resolve your financial and legal affairs.

You can update your Power of Attorney at any time and should consider doing so if there is a change to your personal, financial or legal circumstances. In doing so, you will need to sign a revocation of Power of Attorney of your previous executed Power of Attorney and serve this on your previously appointed Attorney.

You should also consider executing a guardianship document which will provide certainty as to your personal, lifestyle and health matters should you lose capacity to manage your own personal affairs as opposed to your legal and financial affairs.

For expert legal advice with respect to the preparation of a Power of Attorney contract contact Brydens Lawyers today.

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