Since 2008 the witnessing requirements for enduring powers of attorney have been very strict. Due to a potential conflict of interest the law required the donor (the person appointing the attorney) to have their signature witnessed by a lawyer who is independent of the attorney. That meant that a lawyer who acts for both the donor and attorney could not witness the donor or attorney’s signature. The lawyer could prepare the documents but would have to send the donor away to get independent legal advice from a lawyer at another firm. The cost of having an independent lawyer advise the donor would be in addition to the amount the lawyer preparing the documents charged. This was particularly a problem for two people (e.g. husband and wife) appointing each other.
Fortunately a recent law change has helped alleviate this problem. Two people appointing each other can now get their legal advice and use independent witnesses from different lawyers within the same law firm. This especially takes the pressure of people who are comfortable with the law firm they use and do not want to share details of their affairs with another law firm for the sake of a one-off job.
For more information on this law change see John Carter’s statement on the Beehive website.