We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about enduring powers of attorney. If you have any further questions please contact your nearest Public Trustee branch or call 1800 068 784.
Enduring Power of Attorney FAQs
An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that allows appointed individual(s) or organisations to take care of your financial affairs. This document is important if your decision-making ability is impaired, or you no longer want the responsibility.
If the Public Trustee was nominated as your enduring power of attorney, we would be there to make independent and informed financial decisions on your behalf. If you can no longer manage your financial affairs (due to accident or illness) you will not be able to operate a bank account, pay bills, complete your tax return, manage your investments or do anything associated with your financial wellbeing.
An enduring power of attorney allows you to choose who will take on the responsibilities of managing your financial affairs if your decision-making ability is impaired. Acting as an attorney is a demanding job and requires a wide range of responsibilities. A sound knowledge of legal, business, financial and investment issues is crucial. It is important to choose someone you trust to make decisions in line with your wishes.
Here are some facts about enduring powers of attorney:
- An enduring power of attorney deals only with the management of your financial affairs, not personal or medical decisions (this is called an enduring guardianship);
- An enduring power of attorney’s responsibilities can begin after registration of the document at the Land Titles Office;
- An enduring power of attorney is operative during your lifetime only (unless declared bankrupt) but automatically ceases on your death.
Now! The time to prepare an enduring power of attorney is when you are healthy, aware and in control. It is designed to help you when you are unable to act for yourself. If you don’t have a formal arrangement already in place and you have a serious accident or become unwell, it can be very difficult to then appoint someone to act on your behalf.
Situations can arise when you need someone to manage your financial affairs. For example, declining health, accidents or illness and the onset of age-related disabilities, may diminish your capacity to make clear decisions about your financial affairs.
Preparing an enduring power of attorney ensures you protect yourself, those closest to you, and your property. Exercise your right to choose an attorney whilst you have the capacity to do so.
If your decision-making ability is impaired, you may not be able to operate a bank account, pay bills, sell property, complete your tax return, manage your investments, or deal with any of your financial affairs.
As a rule of thumb, all you need to bring along when you make an enduring power of attorney appointment is:
- current proof of identity such as a driver’s license or passport;
- reading glasses if you need them;
- a list of your assets;
- details of who you wish to appoint as your attorney, including their full names (correct spelling) and address.
You can appoint any adult with legal capacity who agrees to the appointment. If the need arises, your attorney will be in control of your financial affairs. It is vital that you have confidence in your attorney to make wise decisions on your behalf and have your best interests at heart.
Acting as an attorney is a demanding job filled with wide ranging responsibilities. It requires a good working knowledge of legal, business, financial and investment matters. It may be unreasonable to ask a friend or relative to take on this role. That is why many people choose to appoint the Public Trustee as their attorney.
Attributes of a good attorney
- is not busy with family and work commitments, to ensure that they have enough time for the role;
- has financial and/ or legal skills, as some estates can be very complicated, especially if there are share portfolios or investment properties;
- will keep personal finances separate from their own and keep accurate records of dealings and transactions;
- can make potentially difficult decisions free from pressure and emotion (e.g. selling family home and contents);
- is not susceptible to other forms of influence;
- can be trusted to act in the best interests of the individual, now and in the future;
- understands and accepts that they are liable for the decisions they make;
- is accessible and accountable.
The Public Trustee is an independent, impartial and professional organisation. Its core business is estate, trust, and financial administration – we have done it for over 160 years and we do it well. We also offer you a number of distinct advantages:
- Reliability – unlike an individual, our ability to act as your attorney is continuous and not affected by changes in personal circumstances. We have been in Tasmania, for all Tasmanians, since 1853 and we will be here for you when you need us.
- Understanding – we are familiar with the natural confusion that follows sudden accident or illness. You can be assured that we will handle the situation with compassion and understanding.
- Experience – we are Tasmania’s most experienced trustee organisation, yet we pride ourselves on offering up-to-date advice and service.
- Expertise – we have experienced, qualified and professional staff including solicitors and accountants. This expertise ensures we make independent and impartial decisions on your behalf.
An enduring power of attorney begins to operate after being registered at the Land Titles Office. Your signed enduring power of attorney remains inactive until you instruct us to have it legally registered.
If you suddenly are incapable of managing your financial affairs due to illness or injury, your attorney can register your enduring power of attorney for you. They will then begin acting to protect your financial interests. Another reason might also be that you simply no longer want the responsibility of managing your financial affairs.
Until your enduring power of attorney is activated, you will maintain full and independent financial control. However, you can have peace of mind knowing that in your time of need there will be immediate access to essential assistance.
Sometimes people wish to activate their enduring power of attorney in order to free up their time or to assist them during certain periods, for example: while they are unwell or overseas. This can include the collection of income to cover the cost of bills, property maintenance and management, and processing health fund accounts. If you have appointed us as your attorney, simply let us know that you no longer wish to handle your financial affairs. We will then arrange for your enduring power of attorney document to be registered with the Land Titles Office and begin to act.
If you have appointed the Public Trustee as your substitute attorney, you will need to collect your enduring power of attorney document from our office. If you are unable to personally collect the power of attorney document, please contact our office.
People wanting to use an enduring power of attorney executed under the laws of another jurisdiction and/or registered in another State or Territory in Tasmania, need to seek legal advice as to whether or not it is recognised under the Act or if it needs to be registered under the Act.
Part 6 of the Act deals with ‘foreign’ powers of attorney.
To avoid complications, it is highly recommended to create your Enduring Power of Attorney in the State you reside in.