12 May Why you need a Power of Attorney
Why you need a Power of Attorney
When you are looking into your estate planning you will often come across Powers of Attorney. A Will protects your interests after you pass away, but a Power of Attorney protects you while you are still alive. There are many different types of Power of Attorney and it is important that you consider your personal needs when deciding which power of attorney is best for you.
Short term power of attorneys- eg travel overseas
You can make a Power of attorney for a single event such as having someone sign for you to purchase a property while you are overseas. This is called a Non- Enduring Power of Attorney and is usually used for one-off events or for short periods while you will be unable to act for yourself. These are very common in business transactions and for people who travel frequently and need to ensure they have someone in Australia who can keep everything going.
Financial power of attorney
You can also make a Power of Attorney that allows for someone to act on your behalf in all your future financial and personal decisions, from a date or event of your specification. This is called an Enduring Power of Attorney and is usually prepared to come into effect only if you are unable to make your own decisions and then continue on with effect until your passing. Having an Attorney can give you peace of mind that if anything were to happen to you there is someone you trust making the decisions regarding your lifestyle and assets.
Who to give power of attorney to?
You can appoint anyone to be your Power of Attorney. When you consider who to appoint as your Attorney remember that you are essentially giving this person complete permission to do any acts that you can do yourself regarding your finances, assets and lifestyle. You can appoint multiple Attorneys to act either jointly, severally (singularly), or alternately as you see fit. This allows you to put additional safeguards in place for your affairs. Each Attorney must accept their appointment by signing the same document for their appointment to be valid, as well as acknowledging they are to act as much as possible on your known wishes otherwise act in your interests. Some people, therefore, call it a “living will” but that is a misleading term.
Medical decisions and power of attorney
You can also set up a Medical Treatment Decision Maker formally known as a Medical Power of Attorney. A Medical Treatment Decision Maker is the person who has the authority to decide on your medical treatment if you are not in a position to make that decision yourself. This document works similarly to a Power of Attorney as you are giving another person to make decisions as if they were you. Your Medical Treatment Decision Maker has the authority to consent or refuse the commencement or continuation of your medical treatment.
It is important to set up a medical treatment decision-maker to ensure you have control over the person who gets to make life or death decisions for you. Without this document, the hospital will look for your next of kin who could be your spouse who you are going through a divorce with or an estranged child or even one of the doctors.
At Rigoli Lawyers we can help you with preparing and finalising all these documents. Each document has its own specific witnessing requirements to it is best to have a lawyer to ensure it is executed correctly.
Although we do not prepare international powers of attorney (you will have to make legal enquires with the country in question), we can prepare powers of attorney for anyone in Victoria.
If you would like to know more about getting your power of attorneys sorted, take advantage of our free half hour legal consults. They can be done in person or via Skype or telephone conference.