How does a Power of Attorney work?
23 February 2019
At Heartland, we often receive questions on how a Power of Attorney works
Imagine how stressed and frustrated you’d feel if you couldn’t complete simple tasks on a loved one’s behalf – like paying the bills, or cancelling the newspaper subscription. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many, as organisations often won’t be able to give others (even family) another person’s information, or let them change any existing arrangements. However a Power of Attorney could help solve this issue.
Even if you and your partner have joint bank accounts, you may still struggle to sell your shared home or change bank accounts without Power of Attorney.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that provides authority to a person (attorney) to act on behalf of another person (donor). The authority granted can be as broad as to give the attorney total power to act as if they were the donor or it can be restricted to a single transaction or timeframe – such as selling a specified asset or operating a bank account while away on holidays.
There are two types of Power of Attorney. A general Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney.
A general Power of Attorney is used for a specific purpose and/or for a specific time frame. It will cease if the person becomes incapable of managing their own affairs. Enduring Power of Attorney may not cease in the event of incapacity.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPoA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your life, when you can’t do so yourself. However, it must be granted while the person still has capacity – is mentally capable and understands what they are doing.
Requirements and documentation vary between States and Territories and compliance with relevant legislation is vital. An EPoA can be established to come into effect upon a specified event such as illness or incapacity. Depending on the individual EPoA, once this event takes place, the administration of your affairs, including the management of investments, then rests with the attorney. However, it can be tailored to operate on only specific affairs. For example, authority may also be granted to make decisions about medical treatment or accommodation.
Care and consideration
At Heartland, we are careful to assess requests and paperwork completed with a Power of Attorney.
As a Power of Attorney must always act in the best interests of the donor, Heartland will not allow a reverse mortgage under Power of Attorney unless it is to benefit the borrower, there is a reason why they are unable to sign for themselves, and it has not been revoked.
For more information about Powers of Attorney in your state, and how you are able to set one up, go to www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/family-and-community/wills-and-powers-of-attorney/powers-of-attorney.
If you are looking to help a loved one apply for a reverse mortgage, and there is a Power of Attorney in place, please give our friendly team a call on 1300 889 338. We are here to help you.
Information provided is accurate as at 14 February 2019 and may change from time to time.