There is a common misconception that the Executor of your Will can make decisions for you while you are alive however, this is not the case. A Power of Attorney document is just as important as your Will. It allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf for legal and financial matters while you are alive. A Power of Attorney can allow someone to do anything you can do by law. It ceases upon your death, at which time your Will comes into effect.
There are two different forms of Powers of Attorney to consider:
A General Power of Attorney is an authority given to someone to deal with your financial and legal affairs on your behalf from the time you execute the document. For example, it allows you to appoint someone to sell your house while you may be overseas, invest your money or operate your bank accounts.
An Enduring Power of Attorney operates when you become legally incapacitated. For example, if you have lost mental capacity due to a stroke, dementia or brain injury.
Both of these forms can be combined into a General and Enduring Power of Attorney should you wish to appoint someone now to act on your behalf and continue to act should you lose mental capacity.
You may appoint more than one person to be your Attorney and there are several ways that you may appoint them depending on your circumstances.
While a Power of Attorney deals with your financial and legal issues, it does not cover personal aspects of your life such as health care, accommodation or lifestyle issues. These are covered by an Advance Care Directive.
Given the importance of a Power of Attorney we advise that you seek experienced and professional advice. Our Wills and Estate Planning solicitors can assist you with the preparation of your Power of Attorney (and Advance Care Directive) – including drafting the document in accordance with your wishes, appointing your Attorneys in the right manner and duly executing the document to ensure it is a valid document.
More information on Powers of Attorney can be found here.
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