When you're assisting your elderly relatives with their financial affairs and in their daily lives, do you have the legal authority to do so? Many people wrongly assume that if an elderly relative grants them power of attorney to act on their behalf they are good to do so for the rest of that person's life. But a power of attorney is valid only as long as the person granting has the mental capacity to be able to grant it, Lize de la Harpe, a legal adviser at Glacier, told a recent South African Independent Financial Advisers Association seminar. A power of attorney provides authority when you act for physically incapable relatives, but your actions on behalf of a relative who is mentally incapable may not be recognised unless you have been appointed curator by the high court, or administrator by the master of the high court, or are a trustee of your relative's special trust. Incapacity is a growing global and local problem and SA doesn't have legislation to adequately deal with it, ...

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