Powers of Attorney
In some situations, such as illness, a long holiday or mental incapacity, you may need to authorise a close friend or family member to make certain decisions on your behalf. These decisions may involve your assets, signing documents or your preferred medical options. Such authority is called a power of attorney. The person you appoint as your attorney steps into your shoes and makes decisions for you as if you were making them yourself.
Different types of powers of attorney are used in different circumstances.
• Enduring Power of Attorney – should you lose your mental capacity
• Medical Power of Attorney – to exercise your wishes in relation to your preferred medical options (Advance Health Directive)
• General Power of Attorney – for specific financial purposes or for a limited time.
Irrespective of age, many clients ensure they are protected in the event of unforeseen circumstances by making an Enduring Power of Attorney.
The Advantages of a Power of Attorney:
An enduring power of attorney can be an invaluable document. It can save significant time, cost and inconvenience for you, your family and your business.
For example, if you are unconscious as a result of a car accident then during your incapacity your spouse may need make decisions on your behalf. They may also need to access your bank accounts to pay for expenses and medical costs. If you have not made a financial enduring power of attorney, then your spouse may need to obtain approval from a court or tribunal before being able to access your bank account. This can take time and is a costly process. It can be grossly inconvenient and add to the distress of dealing with the unexpected event.
An enduring power of attorney should therefore be made while you are in good health and capable of giving directions to your attorney about how you wish your affairs to be conducted.