Powers of Attorney…Super Powers?

Posted on October 10th, 2016

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powers-of-attorney-super-powersKatie Thompson is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay in Newcastle and specialises in commercial dispute resolution & litigation, and employment law.

If you are considering appointing a power of attorney or if you have been appointed as someone’s attorney it is important that you understand the rights and responsibilities associated with this.

An attorney may be given general powers to act on a principal’s behalf, allowing the attorney to undertake any activity and enter into any transaction. This means that an attorney may operate bank accounts; manage and pay bills; and lease or sell property on behalf of the principal.

The scope of an attorney’s powers can therefore be quite wide. In exercising these powers, an attorney has fiduciary obligations to the principal, meaning the attorney is obliged to exercise their powers honestly and with reasonable diligence to protect the principal’s interest. An attorney should always act in the principal’s best interest and should not promote their own personal interests ahead of their principal.  In New South Wales, unless it is expressly authorised, an attorney under an enduring power must not use the principal’s funds to give gifts or benefits to themselves or third parties.

An attorney should be diligent to ensure that they keep accurate records and accounts of all dealings and transactions made on behalf of the principal and that they keep their own property separate from the principal’s.

If you are an attorney and are unsure of whether you are upholding your fiduciary obligations to your principal, you should obtain legal advice to ensure that you are not in breach of your duties and the standard of care that is expected of you.

Katie Thompson is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Commercial and other Litigation and Employment Law. If you require any assistance in these areas please contact Katie Thompson or contact our Newcastle office. 

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