Can a power of attorney change or dispute a will?

Date: Apr 02, 2014

When estate planning, it is important to appoint a trustworthy individual with the power of attorney to ensure your finances and legal standing are taken care of no matter what happens. 

There are different levels of responsibility awarded to the nominated individual, depending on the type of power of attorney you organise. As the power of attorney gives an individual the ability to make financial and legal decisions for you, you may be wondering whether this person is able to create, change or challenge a will in your name.

The short answer is no. The power of attorney ends in the event of your death as the individual is only given the ability to control your living estate. So what powers will your attorney actually hold?

General power of attorney

A general power of attorney is a legal document you can use to appoint someone to act on your behalf financially and legally while you still hold the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

This appointment will typically only last for a specified period of time and is commonly used when people are overseas and unable to manage their legal affairs at home. The most important factor of a general power of attorney appointment is that if you lose your capacity to make decisions, the appointed individual loses his or her power of attorney.

Enduring power of attorney

This document allows you to name a person to make financial and legal decisions for you if you lose the facilities to make these decisions for yourself. This allows the attorney to oversee your estate, protecting your affairs should you be diagnosed with dementia, for example.

While an enduring power of attorney is given deciding control over your financial and legal decisions, this person is unable to make personal, medical or lifestyle choices for you. Additionally, a person given enduring power of attorney is unable to influence changes to your will as this is likely to lead to estate disputes.

Medical power of attorney

While a medical power of attorney can give a trusted individual the right to make decisions regarding health and treatment, this person is unable to make defining choices regarding your lifestyle.

This appointment is not be confused with an enduring power of guardianship, which gives a person the ability to decide where you will live and other lifestyle choices.

If you fail to appoint power of attorney when estate planning, it could mean no one can legally protect and maintain your property and finances if you lose capacity.

For more information on power of attorney and the affect your will, get in touch with the estate lawyers at Craddock Murray Neumann.