An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone else to act on your behalf and make decisions for you.
Why do you need such a document? It is the only way that you can nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf after you are found to be incapable. For example if you are unconscious after an accident or due to an illness or injury. It is during these times that your nominated attorney will step into your shoes and be able to make decisions on your behalf.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney is used to authorise someone to act on your behalf for a discrete period of time – such as purchase a property while you are overseas, or for a discrete task – such as manage your taxation or talk with your bank. While useful, a General Power of Attorney has its limits. Importantly, it is only valid while you are considered to have legal capacity. An Enduring Power of Attorney is different. If a doctor declares that you are no longer capable of making decisions or giving instructions, the General Power of Attorney will be disregarded and people will need to look for an Enduring Power of Attorney.
Enduring Power of Attorney
With an Enduring Power of Attorney you can authorise your attorney to deal with property matters – such as finances, dealing with real estate and paying bills, health care matters – including consenting to or withdrawing from medical treatment, personal care – such as deciding where you live and facilitating your daily needs and as a result of recent amendments, you may allow your attorney to decide whether you take part in medical research or more experimental treatment, such as clinical trials.
You decide when the attorney has this power – it may be only when a doctor has decided that you are no longer capable of making decisions or you may want it to be effective immediately. You might choose to have a combination of the two – your attorney can have the power to deal with some things immediately and others only when you can no longer decide for yourself.
You can also limit the way that your attorney can exercise their powers. For example, you may not wish to have a blood transfusion, not wish to take part in experimental treatments or not allow your attorney to move you from the town you know. Alternatively, you may wish to let your attorney have the full scope of powers – freeing them to make whatever decisions they need to make at that time. After all, you never know what may happen in the future.
You can revoke your Enduring Power of Attorney at any time, while ever you have capacity to provide legal instructions.
Having an Enduring Power of Attorney in place will not affect your ability to make decisions while you are able to. It will also not affect what happens to your property after death – that is what your Will is for. Taking the time to make an Enduring Power of Attorney now, will however, provide an important safeguard in the event that something unexpected does occur. It will save your loved ones time and worry as your nominated attorney can step in and do what needs to be done.
Now is a good time to review your existing Enduring Power of Attorney or put one in place. We can talk you through the options, draft and witness the document and provide you with copies to give to your nominated attorney. We can also store the original document in safekeeping for as long as needed, at no extra cost.
We invite you to contact us to discuss your Estate Planning needs and draw up an Enduring Power of Attorney.
We offer fixed fees, phone appointments and ACT hospital visits if required.
This is general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Published 12 April 2017.