A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person or an organisation the power to manage your assets and financial affairs while you are alive.
It is one of the most important parts of your personal estate planning and you should think about appointing an attorney early.
A Power of Attorney stops when you die, and the responsibility for your estate is taken up by the executor named in your Will.
We can help eligible customers appoint the Public Trustee as their attorney.
Power of Attorney documents
All Power of Attorney documents must be signed by you while you have the legal capacity to understand what a Power of Attorney is, and you agree to the conditions.
The attorney you have selected must also agree, and sign an acceptance of the appointment.
An attorney is responsible for paying your bills and accounts using your money.
Sometimes they may be required to buy or sell property on your behalf if it is in your best interests (e.g. selling property to enable payment of an aged care facility entry fee).
Your attorney must keep accurate records of all transactions and be able to explain any decisions they have made on your behalf.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is one that continues to be in effect, even if you lose your legal capacity due to disability or illness.
Your attorney can continue acting on your behalf, but the legal document must be an Enduring Power of Attorney.
Any Power of Attorney not prepared by the Public Trustee is not automatically enduring.
You can appoint an attorney now, but may not want them to take on the role just yet.
If you are an eligible customer, the Public Trustee can help you prepare all the documentation and hold onto it for you. This is known as a ‘sleeping’ Enduring Power of Attorney.
You can arrange for your attorney to only start acting on your behalf when a medical advisor is of the opinion that you are no longer able to manage your financial affairs.
What happens if I don’t have an attorney?
If you have not appointed an attorney and you become incapable of managing your own financial affairs, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can appoint a financial administrator for you.
This person will act in the same way as your attorney but will be required to report at regular intervals to SACAT and us at the Public Trustee.
While the person appointed will have your best interests in mind, they might not really know what your wishes and needs are.
They might also not have been who you would have chosen for yourself.