Life can be very uncertain and, in the blink of an eye, you may become incapable of carrying on with your everyday affairs due to a serious accident or illness. If your affairs are complex, you will want to take this into account and should think about appointing an enduring power of attorney. What is this, and how can it protect you?
Power of Attorney
In legal terms, a power of attorney is someone (or a corporate body) with the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf. However, you need to give them very precise instructions, and they can only operate within strict parameters. So, if you were incapacitated by a stroke, for example, this option would not be applicable, whereas an enduring power of attorney would prevail.
Enduring Power of Attorney
In this latter case, you would appoint an individual or a corporate body as your enduring power of attorney and their capacity would continue if you were unable to make decisions on your own behalf. They would be able to handle your financial affairs, control your bank account, and buy or sell a property. This situation would continue up until your death.
More Than One
Of course, this is a huge decision, and you will need to ensure that you appoint someone who you trust implicitly. You may want to consider selecting two individuals, just in case one became incapacitated or for additional security. You may give them the capacity to act individually, jointly or jointly and severally. Be careful how you set this up, however, as if one of them were to die or become incapacitated and they had to make all decisions jointly, then the entire arrangement would become void.
You may think about nominating a close friend or someone in your family for this trusted position. It's best if you choose somebody younger than you, just in case they become incapacitated in their own right. They will, however, need to understand the legal responsibilities here. They'll need to obey your instructions while you are still mentally capable or if not, always act in accordance with any conditions that you have set down.
Also, if the attorney is to have control over property matters, then you will have to register the situation with the appropriate government agency.
If you want to set up something like this, then it will need to be witnessed by a professional. In this case, you are best advised to bring in a lawyer who will handle all of the paperwork and make sure that everything is above board.