There may come a time when it becomes necessary to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs. This may be because there is an immediate short-term need, for example, an overseas trip, or a long-term need to plan for an aged person or you may suffer from an illness or medical condition that affects your ability to make financial decisions.
A Power of Attorney is a formal written document in which you authorise another person to represent you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. It relates to your financial affairs only, and does not include medical or lifestyle decisions.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney allows the person you appoint (your Attorney) to deal with your financial affairs (for example, to operate your bank account, to buy and sell things and to sign documents on your behalf). It only applies if you have legal capacity.
A general Power of Attorney can be created for a specified time – otherwise, it ceases when you die or if you become legally incapacitated.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney operates in the same way as a General Power of Attorney except that it applies even if you are incapacitated (for example, if you are unable to communicate after an accident or illness, or suffer from dementia).
You cannot make a Power of Attorney after you have become legally incapacitated. If a person’s capacity at the time of making a power of attorney is in doubt, then it is best to get a doctor’s written opinion confirming that the donor appeared able to understand the nature and effect of the document at the time of signing.
You can cancel your Power of Attorney at any time, as long as you still have legal capacity.
Speak to an experienced lawyer regarding the best way to safeguard your wishes.