Acting as someone’s Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters can be stressful. Managing the finances of someone else requires diligence and organisation and can be very time consuming. Stephanie Rendell, Associate Solicitor and Head of Wills & Estates at RNG Lawyers provides some tips for attorneys.
As an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters you have an obligation to keep records of the decisions made on your behalf while acting in the role. Every time you spend some of the Principal’s money, there needs to be a proper record of the transaction.
The following are some tips that we have collected from our experience that may simplify your role as attorney:
Avoid cash wherever possible. Cash transactions are more difficult to trace and record.
Utilise direct debit facilities wherever possible for the payment of bills.
Pay accounts and invoices from the Principal's funds directly (rather than paying for it out of your own funds and reimbursing yourself periodically).
Set up a spreadsheet or a ledger recording each transaction to match information recorded in the bank statements. At a minimum the ledger should include who you paid, when, how much and the purpose of the payment.
Obtain reasonable professional accounting, financial and legal advice. Generally, you can claim these costs from the Principal’s funds. It is very important that you obtain professional advice before making any significant decisions to ensure that this is the most appropriate strategy.
Utilise other reasonable professional services such as cleaners, gardeners and tradespeople. It is very difficult to reimburse an attorney for their time unless the Power of Attorney document specifically provides for it. It is often much more straightforward to utilise a professional trades person instead.
Although you retain ultimate responsibility for acting as decision maker, it can be helpful to include family members. Speak with family members about a way that you can include them and be transparent with dealings while still maintaining the privacy of the Principal. This may be as simple as providing the family with a regular group email.
Make sure that all organisations have certified copies of the Power of Attorney and that all relevant mail is directed to you, this may include Centrelink, banks, insurers, the Council and utility providers.
Set up a specific email address just for acting in this role that can store all correspondence that you receive.
We hope that some of these points may be of some use to you in simplifying your role and allowing you to focus on the important matters of acting for your Principal.
If you are an attorney and have questions about the role, please dot not hesitate to contact Adrian Riccioni,Siew Goh or the RNG Lawyers Wills & Estates Team for an appointment.