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As part of our service at Harris Tate, we produce a range of legal articles that are published in various media, designed to alert our clients to legal developments that may affect them.

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Who should make decisions for me when I can't?

1 September 2015

Making everyday decisions is an aspect of life most of us take for granted. But what happens if we are no longer in a position to make crucial decisions for ourselves?

If that time comes, it’s best to call on nominated, and trusted, people to look after us and make decisions on our behalf, both financially (property) and for our welfare (and care). 

Better known as an “attorney”, this person must be formally appointed while we are still capable of making our own decisions.

Choosing the appropriate person to act as your attorney can be difficult. Two distinct ‘attorney’ roles exist with each requiring a different set of qualities.  A property attorney should be financially savvy and a welfare attorney should be compassionate and caring. Both should clearly understand your wishes. You can appoint one person to fulfill both roles or a different person for each role.

If you decide to opt for separate attorneys, it is important to ensure that your attorneys can work together on your behalf. For example, your welfare attorney can only make decisions regarding where you will reside with the financial support of your property attorney.

When an attorney cannot - or will not - work with another attorney the result can be disastrous, often detrimentally affecting the one who needs support.

If you choose only one attorney for both roles, beware that one person will have complete control over your affairs.

Take care to appoint an attorney who will look after you when you most need it.

- Jess Holtom