Appointing a Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to act on your behalf. This is important in the event that you are unable to manage your own affairs for a period of time. There are different types of Power of Attorney, but in every case, appointing someone to act for you ensures that a person you trust will be your representative when you are temporarily or permanently unable to act on your own.
Why Should You Appoint a Power of Attorney?
Appointing a Power of Attorney is a smart choice because you never know when something may happen that leaves you incapacitated. Dementia, brain damage due to an accident, a serious illness or a debilitating injury can all happen at any moment and leave you unable to make decisions, communicate your wishes, and speak your desires.
If you have not appointed a Power of Attorney, the courts may need to step in and appoint someone to look out for your interests and make decisions for you. A close family member would need to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to act as your financial manager. The Tribunal will determine if the applicant is fit to be your manager and, if not, the Tribunal could appoint the NSW Trustee and Guardian to manage your affairs. The process of applying to act as a financial manager can be time consuming and complicated for your family members and you could end up with someone you would not have chosen managing your assets and finances.
If you appoint a Power of Attorney, you still have some control even if you are no longer of sound mind or body. This is because you have named someone to act as your “Attorney” and have chosen a person you trust to be your voice when you can no longer speak.
Are There Different Kinds of Power of Attorney?
There are different types of Power of Attorney documents. In some cases, you can grant limited authority to an attorney to act for you in a specific transaction. For example, if you are planning to buy a house but will be abroad when the sale closes, you can appoint an Attorney to sign the paperwork for you. This would be a limited grant of authority and your attorney could only sign the paperwork you authorized; he or she could not enter into any other transactions on your behalf.
An Enduring Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is a more general grant of authority that applies while you are still alive but not able to handle your own affairs. If you are in an accident and become seriously ill, the Enduring Power of Attorney gives your Attorney the authority to begin taking action.
The Attorney can buy and sell real estate, access bank accounts, enter into contracts on your behalf, and do anything you would normally do to manage your own money and assets if you were not incapacitated.
Tips for Creating a Power of Attorney
You must create a Power of Attorney while you are still mentally and physically capable of doing so. This means it is important to plan ahead before something happens to cause you to become sick or hurt. When you appoint a Power of Attorney, you need to understand what the grant of authority means and make smart choices so you will be happy with the person you have chosen to act for you. Follow these tips to help you:
- Choose someone you trust who will act as your Attorney. Anyone who is over the age of 18 can be appointed as a Power of Attorney. Usually, it makes sense to choose a spouse, a child, or someone else who is close to you who you trust.
- Appoint a Power of Attorney before you get sick. Once you are physically or mentally unsound and cannot understand or sign the Power of Attorney document, it will be too late for you to name someone to act for you.
- Ensure your Power of Attorney is enduring. If you create only a General Power of Attorney, it will become invalid as soon as you become incapacitated- which is the time when you need it most.
- Determine if your Power of Attorney must be registered with the Registrar General. This may be necessary if your Attorney will be transferring, purchasing, or selling real estate on your behalf.
- Establish any desired limits on what your Attorney may do. You can limit the authority you give, or specify that your Attorney can act only after certain triggering conditions are met. For example, you can make the enduring Power of Attorney conditional on your doctor signing a medical certificate stating you are of unsound mind.
There are many different considerations when appointing a Power of Attorney, and you should get appropriate legal advice so you can protect yourself in the future. At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we provide assistance to those individuals who want to plan ahead for the future and appoint a Power of Attorney. Give us a call on 1800 770 780 or contact us via [email protected] to schedule a consultation and learn more.