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Wouldn’t it be great if we could look into a crystal ball and see what the future holds for us? Life is unpredictable and we don’t know what is around the corner, which is why it’s important for us to be ready for what life throws our way.
That’s why setting up your Enduring Power of Attorney is so important.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to look after your personal and financial matters if you can’t. This person you appoint is officially called your attorney but don’t worry, the person you appoint does not need to be a trained lawyer or attorney. A family member or close family friend that you trust to act in your best interests will be just fine.
Now there are two kinds of Enduring Power of Attorney:
Personal care and welfare: The person appointed as your personal care and welfare attorney will be responsible for making decisions such as which rest home you will live in and if you will receive certain medical treatments or not. They can’t make decisions about who you could marry or divorce and cannot refuse you standard or life-saving medical treatment.
Property: The person appointed as your property attorney can do things like pay your bills, operate your bank accounts, buy or sell property on your behalf and make other financial decisions for you, such as on your investments and retirement funds.
How does an Enduring Power of Attorney work?
An Enduring Power of Attorney lets you choose who can look after your welfare and your property, and say what you would like to happen to you and your property if you are no longer able to make decisions yourself.
Your personal welfare attorney is only able to make decisions for you if you become mentally incapable and unable to make decisions yourself, but when you name a property attorney, you have some more choices. You can choose to give them the ability to make decisions for your property as soon as you sign the document or only if you become mentally incapacitated. You are allowed to choose as many people to act as your property attorney as you want, but you can only have one person who can act as your personal care and welfare attorney. Your personal care and welfare attorney can be different to your property attorney if you think that’s best.
How do you choose an attorney?
Choosing your attorney is simple in theory – you choose somebody you totally trust to look after you and your property to the best of their ability and in your best interests. So choosing a friend or family member is perfectly fine, but it is something that you do need to carefully consider.
The law does say though that your chosen attorney must be at least 20 years old, not bankrupt or subject to a personal or property order and someone who understands the legal responsibility they will have as your attorney.
Why should you have an Enduring Power of Attorney?
The main benefit of having an Enduring Power of Attorney is peace of mind. So should the worst happen and you get a brain injury from a car accident or have a stroke and end up in hospital, you know that both your welfare and your property will be cared for just like you would have done.
Having Enduring Powers of Attorney set up also means that your bills will continue to get paid, your assets will be safe and it can save you and your family a lot of stress, time and money.
What risks do you face by not having an Enduring Power of Attorney?
It’s true that having an Enduring Power of Attorney is not required by law, but it sure makes things easier for you and your loved ones if you become mentally incapable. If you don’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney, no one else can deal with your property or financial affairs on your behalf without a court order. Getting a court order costs money and takes time, and time delays can have a big impact if you are mentally incapacitated and you have bills that urgently need paying like your mortgage, or important health care decisions that urgently need to be made.
Disclaimer: This article discusses its topic in general terms only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.
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