What is a Power of Attorney?
It is a legally binding document you can sign in New South Wales that appoints someone to deal with your financial affairs and property interests on your behalf.
Why appoint a Power of Attorney?
Appointing a Power of Attorney has many practical advantages. It ultimately gives you the peace of mind that your financial and business interests are placed in the hands of someone you trust should something untoward happen to you (e.g. debilitating injury or illness) rendering you incapable of making these decisions yourself.
While you are capable, however, a Power of Attorney is a very functional instrument that will be of use if you:
- Are going overseas (someone can pay your bills for you back home).
- Are going into hospital (someone could go and see your bank about an impending business deal).
- Have business dealings on the other side of the country or world (someone could go and make a decision or deal on your behalf without lengthy expressions of consent).
- It can be used simply because it is convenient.
So you have decided you would like to appoint a Power of Attorney?
What can your Attorney do?
A standard appointment allows your attorney to sign documents on your behalf, to deal with assets in your name such as bank accounts, real estate, shares etc. Generally, an attorney can only act in your best interests and can only apply your assets for your benefit. You should consider whether the nature of your assets or business dealings means your attorney should have additional functions. Some useful additional functions which we can assist with include:
- The ability of your attorney to view or receive a copy of your Will;
- To allow your attorney to act as Trustee of any SMSF and to review SMSF if you lost capacity;
- To allow your attorney to act as Trustee of any trust in which you have a controlling role; and
- To allow unlimited gifting in specified circumstances to allow for financial planning if you lost capacity.
Have you decided who?
The person or people you appoint must be:
- Over the age of 18 and mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the document.
- Someone you trust with your affairs. The courts can intervene if your attorney acts dishonestly or improperly, but this situation is clearly unadvisable. Be sure to make your choice of attorney wisely.
- Someone who is willing (they have to consent to this position).
What kind of appointment?
The attorney can be appointed either as a general Power of Attorney or as an enduring Power of Attorney. A general Power of Attorney will lose their capability to make financial decisions under their Power of Attorney if you have lost the capability to make financial decisions. An enduring Power of Attorney extends after you have lost capacity.
Want conditions on your Attorney?
Don’t worry – by appointing a Power of Attorney you are not signing your life away! You can put conditions on the Attorney. You could have several Attorneys acting jointly on more valuable decisions.
What if I die?
The Power of Attorney ceases and the executor named in your Will then takes over the responsibility of administering your estate.
What can I do now?
Contact one of our Solicitors to arrange an appointment or to discuss your Power of Attorney.
- They will organise the documents and explain the document
- They can suggest terms and conditions
- If witnessed by a solicitor, the document is an Enduring Power of Attorney
- They can organise registration. The document must be registered before the Attorney can undertake property transactions
- We can store the document at no charge in our strong room and copies can be given to you
- We can arrange the Attorneys to sign.