A Power of Attorney is a document you can sign to appoint another person (your attorney) to act for you in relation to financial affairs.
The document says what the attorney is authorised to do, and this can be as narrow and specific, or as general, as you wish. Any lawful action taken by the attorney under the power of attorney is binding on you, so it is important to appoint someone you can trust.
When the Power of Attorney is signed, the document can be given to the attorney, or you can hold onto it until the need arises. Even though you have appointed an attorney, you can still personally carry out any transactions, such as banking and the sale of property, while you retain the ability to do so.
The Power of Attorney continues as long as you want it to, and it can be cancelled at any time while you have the capacity to make the decision. It can also last for a set period of time, for example, while you are ill or overseas. By law, a power of attorney ceases to operate if you lose the ability to make decisions or when you die.
If, at the time of giving the Power of Attorney, you want the authority you give the attorney to continue even if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions, you need to sign a document called an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’.
Enduring Powers of Attorney are important estate planning documents, increasingly needed as the population ages and dementia rates increase.
An attorney cannot give away your money or property unless the Power of Attorney form specifically allows them to do so. As with gifts, an attorney cannot use your money for their own benefit, or the benefit of any other person, unless the Power of Attorney form specifically allows them to do so.
Contact Peter McNamara today for information about how a Power of Attorney can be used to help organise your financial and personal affairs and arrange the necessary signatures and certificates.