At the risk of sounding like an insurance commercial, have you thought about what would happen to your business if you weren’t there?
In this case, I’m not talking about your permanent disappearance, rather what would happen if you were away travelling interstate or overseas for an extended time and something needed to be done urgently? Would the wheels keep turning in your business or would your absence become a serious roadblock?
Consider how would you deal with these situations:
- You have a property that’s been on the market for the last six months and a buyer has finally appeared; your real estate agent is screaming for a signature;
- The deal that you’ve been working on gets the go ahead and you need to set up a new company;
- A new supplier needs a non-digital signature on their credit application before they will release the widgets you ordered;
- Your bank needs the documentation signed before they will release funds on a loan.
But the internet will solve these problems, won’t it?
It is true that the internet makes many transactions amazingly easy these days. You can transfer money, make payments, log into various cloud apps, send correspondence, digitally sign documents and conduct your daily business whether you’re sitting in your office or on a beach in Bali.
But what if a digital signature is unacceptable? Or they won’t accept a scanned copy of the document (assuming you can access a scanner)? Or they won’t accept a photograph? Or someone must have a cheque? Or you are staying in a remote location where you can hardly get a bar to make a voice call let alone log into the internet?
Some tasks can’t be handled from a distance, and this is where you need someone to stand in your shoes, someone who can act as on your behalf as your General Power of Attorney (POA).
A Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone as your representative in financial matters (money, banking, property or shares) if you can’t attend to them yourself, if you are away travelling or become ill.
Your representative or attorney – in this instance, the term “attorney” does not necessarily mean a lawyer or solicitor – can only act within the bounds of your written agreement. You decide the tasks they can or can’t do and the duration of the agreement. Your attorney is bound to act in your best interests, and if you lost mental capacity or pass away, the agreement is automatically cancelled.
Putting a POA in place before you head off overseas can mean the difference between calmly handling a situation that crops up and going into full-blown crises management.
There are three different types of POA
- General Power of Attorney – where you appoint an individual to act on your behalf for financial matters for a limited time, for example, as a director of a company or to take care of personal finances.
- Enduring Power of Attorney – where you appoint a representative to handle financial matters if you lose mental capacity.
- Company Power of Attorney – where the company gives an individual the power to sign on behalf of the company.