A Power of Attorney is a formal written document in which you authorise another person to represent you in certain circumstances. It relates to your financial affairs only, and not lifestyle or medical decisions.
A General Power of Attorney allows the person you appoint (your Attorney) to deal with your financial affairs (for example, to buy and sell things on your behalf, to operate your bank account if you're away overseas or if you're ill). It does not apply if you are mentally incapacitated.
An Enduring Power of Attorney operates in the same way as a General Power of Attorney except that it applies even if you are incapacitated (for example, if you are unable to communicate after an accident or illness, or suffer from dementia).
Why should you have a Power of Attorney?
We recommend that everyone should have a Power of Attorney. Having a Power of Attorney allows you to choose who you want to look after your financial affairs and to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to do that for yourself. You may be prevented from making your own financial decisions because you are traveling or you may suffer from an illness or medical condition that affects your ability to make financial decisions.
What happens if you don't have a Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a Power of Attorney and you become unable to make your own decisions due to an accident or illness, then a family member will need to seek authority from the Guardianship Board to make these decisions for you. This may result in a third party (such as the Public Trustee) being appointed to act for you.
Who should you appoint as your Attorney?
You decide who you want to act as your Attorney but no one should be appointed unless you are completely satisfied about their honesty, integrity and common sense. If you are married, it is usual to appoint your spouse. It is also common to appoint an adult child or children. You can appoint more than one person if you wish.