Life presents many unforeseen circumstances that most people cannot control. As health declines, parents inevitably grow concerned about the future of their children for when they are no longer present. Some people might just want to secure their assets and belongings should anything happen to them. In any case, it would be beneficial if someone could act on your behalf.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document which authorises someone to act on your behalf. While you may not need it as of yet, there are many advantages in knowing how you can use a Power of Attorney as early as now… Here’s all you need to know on ‘when and how’ to use this legal document:
About the Power of Attorney
There are two types of power of attorney:
- General Power of Attorney: Here, you can authorise your attorney to make financial and legal decisions for you, usually within a specified time frame. An example of a situation where this would be appropriate is, if you’re unable to tend to legal affairs back home while you’re abroad.
- Enduring Power of Attorney: This kind of agreement authorises the attorney to make decisions for the principal in cases where they don’t have the mental capacity to arrange their own affairs. An example of this will be, if the principal becomes incapacitated due to an accident or illness.
Authorising your attorney
Perhaps the most important consideration is who to appoint as the Attorney in this kind of agreement. Anybody over the age of 18 can act as an Attorney, and the Principal is usually careful to choose their most trusted family member, friend, or professional (e.g., a legal adviser). More than one person may sign this agreement and act jointly or independently on behalf of the Principal.
You can also make the Power of Attorney as broad or as specific as you like, depending on how much authority should be vested in your Attorney. Authority can be limited to a single document or any number of documents needed for a particular transaction.
Duration of a Power of Attorney
This can start whenever it is most appropriate for the Principal. Another option is to have the agreement commence when the actual document is signed or to nominate a start date in the future.
A Power of Attorney can end in several ways:
- When the nominated act has been completed;
- On a specified end date;
- Once specific documents have been signed according to the agreement;
- When a Notice of Revocation has been signed; or
- Other specific circumstances.
When ending a Power of Attorney through a Notice of Revocation, a copy should also be given to any authority (e.g., bank or government agency) that may have seen your Power of Attorney form. The Notice of Revocation should be given to the Attorney or registered (if the Power of Attorney form was registered). Note that this document does not need to be registered unless the Attorney is being authorised to deal with real estate decisions, such as selling or leasing the Principal’s property.
Signing and witnessing
Because the Power of Attorney is a powerful document that grants another person access and authority to carry out acts on your behalf, it is essential that you alone sign as Principal. Having someone else sign this document for you would be very risky for your valuables and assets.
A witness is also required to give the signing some formality and more legitimacy. The purpose of having a witness is more for overseeing that the Principal and Attorney were present for the signing rather than to peruse and understand the terms of the agreement.
It is also essential that all agreements made between the parties be included in writing. The Attorney should be well aware of precisely what he or she is authorised or restricted from doing based on the Power of Attorney.
In these unpredictable times, relying on others to set your affairs in order—particularly if you are unable to—is a valuable asset to have. The Power of Attorney agreement can empower you to let trusted and loved ones to carry out important decisions and precious wishes when you can’t. It is one way to truly secure your future, even after you’re unable to.
If you’re considering getting a Power of Attorney, then you may need to consult a lawyer. Here at GLG Legal Springfield we cater to clients ranging from individuals to large corporations. We offer you a tailored approach to meet your unique needs and challenges. Let us help you navigate the legal system with confidence and ease, contact us for a consultation at (07) 3288 3511.