The term ‘Power of Attorney’ is used to describe a document that grants one person the right to deal with the financial and/or personal and health matters of another person. The Power of Attorney operates whilst a person is alive and ceases upon their death (as their will or the rules relating to intestacy take over at that point). A Power of Attorney is most commonly granted between spouses to ensure that if something happens to one, the other can deal with matters on their behalf.
A Power of Attorney also usually deals with financial matters, such as banking property and shares, as well as health matters, such as making care decisions and choice of doctors. Before granting someone a Power of Attorney, it is vital that you seek advice from your lawyer and other financial advisors to ensure that you understand what powers you are granting to another party and what may happen in the event that the power is exercised once granted, the power can usually only be withdrawn through the signing of a specific document withdrawing the Power of Attorney.
An advanced health directive is a document that lists a variety of medical conditions and your instructions as to what you want done if you are afflicted by that condition. Ideally, it should be completed with the assistance of a qualified medical practitioner so that you understand the implications of the listed medical conditions, its likely effects and treatment options so you can make informed decisions regarding your future care.
It is critical, however, that these documents are drafted and reviewed by your solicitor to ensure that they comply with specific legal requirements, including signing the document, witnesses and proper form. You also need to ensure that the originals are stored in a safe place (such as your lawyer’s safe) and that your family and/or friends are able to access them if they are needed.
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