An enduring power of attorney protects your affairs in case you have a serious illness or mental incapacity. Like other types of powers of attorney, the enduring power of attorney is a legally recognized document in which you state that you wish to appoint another person to act as your agent and representative. You can specify in the document for which matters the other person can act. Powers of attorney become ineffective when you die or if you become mentally incompetent.
Because a typical power of attorney is ineffective if you are mentally incompetent, a time when you likely would need the help of an agent to manage your affairs, The Bahamas recognizes the enduring power of attorney. As the name suggests, an enduring power of attorney can be used if you are mentally incapable of managing your affairs. See Powers of Attorney Act.
In order for it to be effective, the enduring power of attorney must be registered at the Supreme Court Registry of The Bahamas. The document may specify that it will go into effect only if you are mentally incompetent. If it does not, then the enduring power of attorney is effective as soon as it is registered.
Without an enduring power of attorney, if you become mentally incompetent someone would have to apply to the Court and be appointed to manage your affairs. The appointment process could take time, during which your financial or personal affairs could be adversely affected. For example, your rent and bills might not be paid on time, or you might miss an important deadline such as a tax filing.
People who want an enduring power of attorney should be of sound mind, meaning that there should be no evidence of any mental incapacity when the document is signed and registered. You must understand the nature and effect of the power that you are assigning to another person through the document. In particular, you need to understand that your agent can take control of your affairs and do the same things with your assets that you can do, that the power of attorney continues or begins if you become mentally incompetent to manage your own affairs, and that the power is irrevocable once it begins.
Again, an enduring power of attorney can grant power to an agent over any aspect of your financial or personal affairs. For example, you might have one power of attorney allowing an agent to pay your bills, and a different one allowing an agent to make decisions about your medical and personal care. Anyone creating an estate plan in The Bahamas should consider registering an enduring power of attorney to protect themselves in the future.
To find out more about powers of attorney and estate planning, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.