Beginners Guide to Power of Attorney

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power of attorneyAppointing a power of attorney can give you peace of mind over the uncertainty of the future. It doesn’t matter what your age or state of health is, having a power of attorney can provide a number of advantages that ensure that your affairs are seen to should the unexpected occur.

What is Power of Attorney?

“Power of attorney is a legally-binding agreement that gives someone the authority to make financial and property decisions on your behalf.” states The Wills and Probate Centre.

The power of attorney usually takes place for a finite amount of time and is automatically cancelled if you pass away or are no longer of ‘full legal capacity’. Full legal capacity is a legal term that denotes that you are incapable of making decisions, due to a condition that diminishes your cognitive abilities.

It differs from enduring power of attorney, which continues to be in effect,even after you experience a decline in physical or mental health.

Who Can Be a Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney can be given to a maximum of two people. They must be over the age of 18 and trusted to act in your best interests. In order to bestow power of attorney, you must be of full legal capacity.

What Can a Power of Attorney Do?

Power of attorney is often considered synonymous with shady dealings with someone’s estate. It is no surprise that family members might be concerned about their elderly or feeble relatives.

But just how much power does an attorney have over your finances and property? You are capable of giving as much or as little power to your attorney as you see fit. When drafting the document, you could give them the authority to make all decisions on your behalf or just the ability to do just one thing (i.e.filing your tax return).

What an attorney cannot do is make decisions about your lifestyle. This can also extend to medical decisions, depending on what state you’re in. In some states, you can give medical power of attorney,which allows someone to make medical choices for you.

Can Power of Attorney Be Canceled?

Power of attorney can be revoked at any time while you still have legal capacity. To do so, you must inform the attorney. It is advisable to do it in writing, so the alteration is documented and your wishes clearly stated.

Concerns With Power of Attorney?

What happens when a family believe an attorney has not acted in your best interests? All is not lost. Even though it can be very time consuming, not to mention expensive, the family can appeal to the Supreme Court to have the attorney removed. It is a very complicated procedure and the expertise of a lawyer is recommended. But like many things, prevention is better than the cure. So choosing your enduring power of attorney should be made with the utmost seriousness and consideration to ensure you are picking the right person.

No Power of Attorney?

Unlike a case when there is no will, power of attorney is not necessarily given to a spouse or partner if something were to happen, so it is important to appoint someone to take on responsibility of your financial or medical decisions if you are left suddenly unable to do so.

Bio: Emily Ford is an Australian DIY enthusiast, Property Consultant with a love for helping ordinary people preserve their wealth

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