Enduring Power of Attorney

While a Will provides for your affairs after death, there is another situation that many people fail to address, and that is when one has lost the mental capacity to care for themselves due to accident or illness.

It is common for farmers to be asset rich and cash poor. Consequently, loved ones may find themselves unable to liquidate assets in order to provide for your care, if needed, since nobody has the power to deal with your affairs and sign legal documents on your behalf. If the assets are in joint names with your spouse, your spouse will still not be able to liquidate them.

In such a situation, legal options are available. An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that you can prepare which contains safeguards to ensure that the power you give to your nominated attorney cannot be misused without legitimate reasons that must be verified by professionals.

The purpose of this document is to appoint somebody as your Attorney that you trust implicitly. Each person's choice of Attorney depends on their own circumstances, but it is often a spouse or child. In the event that you become incapable of maintaining your affairs, the Attorney appointed will take care of them on your behalf.

As part of the process, you will also name two people who will be informed when you sign this Enduring Power of Attorney. The two parties are known as the "Notice Parties". Your doctor must also provide written confirmation that you are mentally competent to sign and are aware of exactly what you are signing.

All of this occurs while you are able to take care of your own affairs. Should you become ill or injured in the future and are no longer able to look after your affairs, your Attorney must register an Enduring Power of Attorney with the High Court and inform the two Notice Parties immediately. It is necessary for the Notice Parties to agree that you are no longer able to handle your own affairs, and if they do not, then they may object on your behalf.

Ward of Court is the only other option if you become incapacitated. An Enduring Power of Attorney system is far better than being made a Ward of Court, which is an extreme measure. Having an Enduring Power of Attorney means you are in control of your own future, and it simplifies the process for your family if necessary.