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Why do I need a Power of Attorney when my partner and I share everything?

 


Do I need a power of attorney if we share everything?

Enduring Powers of Attorney are powerful and binding legal documents that retain their validity (or “endure”) even when you are no longer capable of handling your own affairs. There are two types of Enduring Power of Attorney; financial and personal.

There is a common misunderstanding amongst Australians, that you do not require a Power of Attorney if you and your partner share everything. In today’s blog, we’re using a scenario to explain why you may need a Power of Attorney.

Scenario

My partner recently went to hospital after a bad accident.  When I tried to access his account to pay his bills, I was told that I couldn’t because the account was in his name only and I needed a Power of Attorney if I wanted to take any action on his bank account.  Why do I need one because I thought that partners or spouses were automatically able to sign for each other? 

Why you and your partner need a Power of Attorney

It’s hard when loved ones are hurt or ill and can’t look after themselves.  It’s especially hard when they need someone else to help them but there is no authority or formal documentation to allow them to do so.

Where people, even partners, have assets in their name alone (as opposed to jointly), then another person needs authority to access those assets.  Having your partner do a Power of Attorney that allows you access to his assets is one of the best ways to allow you to use his bank account to pay his bills if he isn’t able to do so because of his accident, or he is ill or he has lost capacity.

Should I appoint my partner as my Attorney?

It may be a good idea for you to think about appointing your partner as your attorney in case the same things happen to you.  This would allow him to look after your bills and other legal and financial matters if you became unable to look after yourself.  You can also allow each other to look after your personal matters as well, which is sometimes necessary.

Both of you may also want to think about giving each other the authority to look after your medical treatment needs if the situation is serious; like you need an operation or even life support may have to be decided on. 

Think about an Advance Care Directive too

The final thing that you both may want to think about would be an Advance Care Directive that allows decisions to be made regarding the kind of care (personal and health) you may or may not want to have if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions yourself or if you are likely to die soon without a chance of recovery.

These are hard things to look at, and it is often best to discuss them with your partner as well as with one of our solicitors with the experience and expertise to help you in making these decisions and making the documents you need for peace of mind.

For more information about this, please visit our pages on:

If you’d like to get the process going with your Enduring Power of Attorney and/or Advance Care Directive, you can get in touch directly with today’s blog writer, David Davis.


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