Family Law

Enduring Power of Attorney

If you are in high school, you probably have not given any thought at all to writing a will, but you very likely have a general idea of what wills are and how they work.

More and more lawyers these days are advising their clients that there is something else that is just as important as writing a will but which relatively few people even know about. This is creating what is called an enduring power of attorney . A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person (called your agent) the power to make legal decisions on your behalf. If you're suddenly transferred overseas by your employer, for instance, you might give someone a power of attorney to look after the sale of your home in your absence. This is a special power of attorney , because it is limited to whatever is involved in selling the house.

A general power of attorney , in contrast, gives your agent very wide powers to make legal decisions for you for a period of time. An example would be people with complex and wide ranging financial affairs, hiring experts to look after everything for them.

An enduring power of attorney is a document appointing an agent to look after your financial affairs indefinitely or until you revoke it. Some enduring powers of attorney are set up to come into effect immediately, but usually they are designed to start if and when you became mentally incompetent to look after your own affairs. For instance, if you are in a car accident and end up in a coma, or if when you are older, you get a condition like Alzheimer's disease that robs you of your ability to understand your affairs and make informed decisions, an enduring power of attorney gives another person you trust the right to make decisions for you.