Wright Johnston and Mackenzie Solicitors

Powers Of Attorney

The power to care.

Many people assume that if they become unable to manage their affairs then their family, a trusted friend or the next-of-kin will be able to step in and help them. However, simply being related to someone is not sufficient authority to manage their finances.

Powers of Attorney (PoA) are legal documents which allow you to appoint the people you most trust to deal with your affairs, giving both you and them peace of mind for the future. When granting a PoA it is vital that you understand its implications so it must be done while you are of sound mind. Putting it off until it is too late means that your relatives may have to apply to the court for a Guardianship Order – a lengthy and expensive process.

There are two main types of powers you can give to your Attorney:

  • financial powers (also known as ‘continuing’ powers) that deal with your monetary and legal affairs; and
  • welfare powers which are related to your health, care and wellbeing.

Appointing your Attorney is a very personal decision and some people are happy to appoint the same Attorney for both types of power, while others prefer to appoint separate Attorneys for each.

Once registered, the financial powers can be used immediately. This is particularly helpful for people who, due to health or other reasons, are temporarily unable to go to the bank or manage their affairs and require assistance even though they have not lost their mental capacity. Welfare powers, on the other hand, only come into effect if the person granting them is no longer capable of making their own decisions.

Like your will, Powers of Attorney should be reviewed on a regular basis in order to accommodate any change in your circumstances. Whether you have a new partner, are remarried or have children sufficiently grown up to assume the responsibilities of being an Attorney, ensuring that the best possible scenario is in place will benefit all parties in the event that it is needed.