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Power of Attorney

 

A power of attorney is a document whereby one person (called ‘the principal’) authorises another (called ‘the attorney’) to act on his or her behalf, generally in relation to financial and property decisions. The power of attorney cannot be used after you die. A power of attorney expires when you lose mental capacity, unless it is an “enduring” power of attorney.

An “enduring” power of attorney is particularly useful as it allows you to make a power of attorney that will continue to be effective even if you lose mental capacity. You can elect when you wish the enduring power of attorney to come into effect that is, from the moment it is signed or it can come into effect only when you become of unsound mind.

“General” powers of attorney are used for commercial or transactional purposes to conduct, for example, a sale or purchase of property.

An attorney can have significant power over your affairs. You should choose an attorney whom you trust and who will manage your finances in a responsible way. An attorney must be over the age of 18 and should be someone you can trust, who is competent enough to make decisions and seek expert advice where necessary, who respects your wishes and who is likely to be in the locality and healthy enough to carry out the appointment.

If your financial affairs are complex, you should appoint an attorney who is capable of managing complex affairs and is available to do so. You may elect Quinns as your Attorney, but fees will apply.

Your attorney must:

• Act in your best interests at all times;

• Act honestly and protect your assets;

• Prepare and keep records of all dealings and transactions; and

• Not renounce a power during any period of your legal incapacity, except in limited circumstances.

It is also possible to appoint more than one attorney to act, and they may act jointly or severally.

• Jointly and severally – the attorneys can act together or separately;

• Severally – the attorneys can act separately; or

• Jointly – the attorneys must agree on all decisions.

Registration of your power of attorney is only required if the attorney is going to deal with your real property, for example, a mortgage, lease or selling your property.

If you like more information or advice on establishing a Power of Attorney or if you have another Wills & Estate enquiry, please complete and submit the Express Enquiry form  or call us on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange an appointment.