A power of attorney is a powerful legal document – the kind that people don’t realise they need until it’s too late. To help you, we’ve put together the key pieces of information you should know about a power of attorney and the implications of setting one up.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (PoA) is a legal document which allows you to give control to another person to manage your money and property. Some important things to know about the power of attorney:
- It is only valid if you are mentally capable at the time you signed it
- If you do not have mental capacity, it can be signed by two medical practitioners (usually physicians)
- It is only valid while you are alive
- You can appoint more than one person to be your attorney
When Would You Need a Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney allows someone to easily take care of your affairs while you aren’t physically in the country. So it might be useful to have a PoA in place if you are intending to move overseas, or if you travel a lot with work.
For example, military personnel often set up powers of attorney to take care of their business while on deployment.
When it comes to setting up a PoA, the most important consideration is to appoint someone you trust. That might be a close friend, your spouse or a family member – whatever their relation to you, it should be someone who is responsible with money that you can rely on. You should speak to them about appointing them as your attorney before you do it, so that they can agree.
Who Should Have a Power of Attorney
We recommend that everyone consider whether a PoA is relevant for them. Particularly in the case of an enduring power of attorney (which remains valid even if you lose mental capacity), your family members or loved ones will appreciate that you had the foresight to put one in place in such a stressful situation.
There are two kinds of power of attorney:
- General power of attorney – valid only while you are mentally capable. This might be suitable if you are traveling, moving overseas or have a lot of business affairs to handle and want to appoint someone to help. However, if something happens to you, and you become incapable of managing your affairs, it will no longer be valid.
- Enduring power of attorney – remains valid if you become unwell or incapable of managing your affairs. If you became incapacitated suddenly and did not have an enduring power of attorney in place, someone would have to apply to the court to manage your money and property.
Your own personal circumstances will help decide which one is relevant for you – please contact us for an appointment and we can discuss this with you. In either case, if you die, the power of attorney is no longer valid.
What If a Power of Attorney Isn’t Right for Me?
If you want to ensure that you have yourself covered to allow someone else to manage your affairs for you, but you’re not ready to appoint a power of attorney, there are other legal options available. For example, you could set up a joint bank account with the person and let them have co-sign powers of the account. We recommended that you get legal advice specific to your situation to help you make the right decision.
How to Set Up Your Power of Attorney
Every person, and every situation is different. This is why we recommend booking a consultation with us to discuss your specific needs. We can help protect your money and property in the years to come with the proper legal documentation.
Our power of attorneys are $300 for one person or $350 for a couple. Our fixed fees mean that you’ll always know exactly what the cost of the work will be, with no hidden surprises.
(Please note that fees do not include GST)