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A power of attorney is a legal document by which a person (called the principal or donor) appoints another (the attorney or donee) as their representative for certain purposes as set out in the document. A person travelling overseas may, for example, grant a power of attorney to a relative or friend who can then access the traveller’s bank to pay his or her bills.

A power of attorney can be granted to anyone who has the legal capacity to do whatever needs to be done. Matters relating to powers of attorney are regulated by the Powers of Attorney Act for each respective state.

Can I appoint a lawyer as my attorney?

You can appoint anyone who is suitable, willing to take on this role and who you trust to make decisions for you and in your best interests. You can choose anyone over 18 to be your Power of Attorney, including your lawyer. You can appoint more than one person as your attorney. However, you should choose people who are able to work together. If you appoint more than one person, you can appoint them so they can only make decisions together (jointly) or individually (severally).

Will I lose my own rights if I make a Power of Attorney?

No. If you are still able to make your own decisions (mental capacity), you will have authority to deal with your own property and money. In a Power of Attorney, you should make it clear that you only want your attorney’s power to start if and when you become incapable of making your own decisions. A Power of Attorney will not affect your will. A Power of Attorney will only operate whilst you are alive and is cancelled when you die.

Can my lawyer help me register my Power of Attorney?

Definitely. At LegalVision, we can assist you register your Power of Attorney in any state or territory in Australia. Your power of attorney must be registered with the Land and Property Management Authority or relevant Land Titles Office if your attorney needs to deal with your real estate (eg sell, mortgage or lease it). A registration fee will be charged. In Victoria, there is no need for registration of a General Power of Attorney. It just needs to be signed and witnessed.

Whilst you do not need to have a lawyer draft your Power of Attorney, a lawyer can assist you in ensuring it is drafted correctly, and registered with the right process.

Please note that LegalVision is a commercial law firm and cannot assist with these matters. We recommend you contact your local law society.

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