Power of Attorney Explained

Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a specific person to manage the financial affairs of someone while they are alive. It can also appoint a trustee organisation to do the same thing. This person or organisation is chosen by the person whose business affairs they will administer. They can be a family member, trusted friend or another person such as a family lawyer like Robertson Hayles. You cannot appoint a Power of Attorney unless you are over 18.

Why you may need an attorney

If you are going to be out of the country or really busy doing something else, you will need an Attorney to see to all your business affairs. Or if you want to buy or sell property overseas without having to go there, you can give Power of Attorney to a person you trust who can travel or who already lives there and they can do the deal on your behalf.

When a person has Power of Attorney, they can also pay bills and make many important decisions that they consider to be in your best interests. Any documents they sign on your behalf will be legally binding, which is why you need to be able to trust the person you appoint.

Revoking the Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time so long as the person has the mental capacity to do so. If a person loses their mental capacity the Power of Attorney does not apply any more. To have an attorney look after your affairs after you lose mental capacity, you must create what is called an Enduring Power of Attorney and this should be done while you still have capacity.

An attorney can only attend to your business matters and finances. They cannot make decisions regarding your health or health care, about any medical treatment or anything to do with your welfare in any way. Such decisions can only be made by an Enduring Guardian.

To create a Power of Attorney document you really should have professional legal help in order to ensure it meets your specific needs, especially if it is to be an Enduring Power of Attorney. However, to do it yourself, you can fill in a form from the NSW Land and Property Information.

Who is a suitable candidate for the position?

An attorney should not be just anyone. To administer your business interests successfully, they need to have the training and skills to do. They should certainly be trustworthy, but they should not be anyone that might have a conflict of interest or not be as impartial as they should. For instance, an heir could be said to have a conflict of interest as they will consider how their dealings could best benefit them in the long run.