What exactly is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An enduring Power of Attorney is a document which enables you to choose and appoint who it is that you would like to have responsibility for looking after both your personal affairs and your financial affairs in the event that you are unlucky enough, through accident or illness, to lose your mental capacity at some future point in time. The most important point about this type of document is that it is only ever intended to become effective IF you lose your mental capacity at some future point in time.

Many people are of the view that an Enduring Power of Attorney becomes effective the moment it is signed and they therefore have shied away from completing one because they feel that by doing so their ability to manage their own affairs will be immediately taken away from them and put into the hands of their Attorneys. That is absolutely not the case. your enduring Power of Attorney will only ever come into effect if you lose your mental capacity at some future date. This will be certified by your doctor, and once that occurs your attorney/s will apply to register the Enduring Power of Attorney. When that is completed your Attorney/s become entitled to begin to manage your affairs on your behalf

It sounds like the person you appoint is very important. What advice would you give about who should be the Attorney?

Your Attorney, or Attorneys if you appoint more than one will be able to take full control of all aspects of your life and will have full access to all of your assets and they will have full responsibility for dealing with those assets on your behalf so as to ensure your best interests are met for the rest of your life.

They will be able to take all decisions about what investments to make and about when to sell assets and when not to. They will be able to make all decisions about renting your house or not if they feel it is appropriate and they will have full responsibility for the ongoing discharge of all of your outgoings. It’s extremely important that the person who is nominated as Attorney is someone who you feel will be able to fulfil all of those requirements and who you trust will be impeccably honest in all of their dealings for you.

You also need to consider the age profile of the person you plan to appoint and to consider whether, if you would intend to appoint someone of a similar age to you, you should also appoint a second person, possibly one of your children, to act as a second Attorney who can assist your first choice of Attorney if necessary.

The Enduring Power of Attorney enables you to choose how many people are appointed to become your Attorneys.

It also enables you to restrict their authority to doing certain things if you want to do so, and also very importantly it enables you to allow them to have your permission to make what are called Personal Care Decisions about you as well.  These are the type of day to day decisions you would ordinarily make without thinking about and which in the ordinary course of life would cause you no difficulty.

It can be a great source of comfort to know that your nominated and chosen person is able to make those decisions for you.  Appointing someone as your Attorney a position of great responsibility and it’s therefore one that must not be entered into lightly.