What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorises one or more persons to make real estate and financial decisions on your behalf. It can operate in different circumstances such as where you travel overseas and require someone to manage your financial affairs locally for a short time while you are abroad, or it can operate when you are no longer capable of managing your own financial affairs. You can make a general power of attorney or you can make an enduring power of attorney which will operate when you lose capacity to manage your own affairs.
Who should you appoint as your attorney?
You can appoint anyone as your attorney provided they are over the age of 18 years of age and are not under a legal disability. Your attorney should be someone that you trust implicitly to act in your best interests and who will act honestly in all matters concerning your affairs and who will not gain a benefit from being your attorney, unless expressly authorised by you. It is also prudent that you appoint a substitute attorney in the event that your attorney is unwilling to act as your attorney or no longer capable of acting as an attorney.
Why is it important?
A Power of Attorney is an important life planning tool. It is as important as a Will. A Power of Attorney operates during your lifetime while a Will only operates upon your passing. You must have the requisite mental capacity to make a power of attorney. If you no longer have the capacity to understand the nature of effects of a power of attorney, then it is too late to give instructions to prepare one. That is why it is important to make a power of attorney before it is too late. It is also important to remember that a power of attorney only concerns your financial affairs. If you want to authorise one or more persons in respect of making health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf when you are no longer capable, then you should look at appointing a guardian pursuant to an Appointment of Enduring Guardian.
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