By Sanette Viljoen
It often happens that a person is unable to handle his financial affairs by himself. It could be that the person is old and no longer physically capable, or it could also be a temporary thing because, for instance, the person is travelling overseas for three months and cannot handle his money affairs himself. Can he appoint somebody to do it on his behalf?
You can sign a general proxy in favour of the person you choose to handle your finances. An attorney can help you to draw up such a proxy. The proxy then gives the person the authority to perform all juridical actions on your behalf. It is very simple and fairly cheap to have such a proxy drawn up.
You can also take the person who is going to handle your affairs to the bank and on the basis of the general proxy make the necessary arrangements for the person to be granted signing rights and electronic authorisation rights with regard to your bank account.
Usually the banks also have forms that they require to be signed; the general proxy alone is probably not going to be adequate for a bank.
You should note that in our legal system a proxy lapses the moment the proxy grantor becomes incapable of acting, e.g. in the case of dementia. In other legal systems people can sign a so-called continuous proxy, which is still valid even if the proxy grantor becomes incapacitated. In South Africa, however, this is not possible and it remains a shortcoming in our law.
In South Africa you will have to apply for the appointment of a curator if the person becomes incapacitated.