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CMS Expert Guide to contingency planning with proxies

An accident or illness can make someone (temporarily) unable to act. Through the use of proxies, it is possible to not only protect the person affected. Relatives can be taken care of and enterprises can be kept running as well.

Precautionary contingency planning means preparing for circumstances where someone is not able to decide about personal, financial or business matters. There should be no doubt about who is going to act instead of the person concerned and that decisions are taken in the person's best interests.

Especially family businesses are at risk without contingency planning from its decision-makers. Long-term absences can cause a standstill with detrimental lack of information and capacity for action at both levels, partnership and management level.

Proxies enable one or more representatives to act on behalf of the person affected. In some jurisdictions, it is even possible to issue proxies which are valid beyond the death of the grantor.

International setting

For people having residences in different states, a business entity in another country, wealth abroad, a lengthy professional expatriation or family members living in a different country, the legal provisions of every jurisdiction have to be taken into account under contingency planning in order to create a legal set-up working in cross-border situations.

Often, it is useful to use the respective proxy standard in the relevant jurisdiction, as harmonised international rules on the applicable law and acknowledgement of proxies are insufficient or lacking.

We have gathered the key facts about proxies in various jurisdictions.