Enduring Powers of Attorney are a crucial part of the estate planning process. When prepared correctly, they allow someone to make decisions for you and manage your affairs on your behalf. It’s not just a form-filling exercise – the law is continually evolving and becoming more complex in an attempt to strike the right balance between protecting the person giving the power of attorney, and ensuring that the document is useful and practical.
Are there different types of Enduring Powers of Attorney?
Yes, there are a number of different types, and also differences from state to state. In Victoria, the two most important and useful types of Enduring Powers of Attorney are:-
- The Enduring Power of Attorney
- The Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment)
What are the key points that I should know about Enduring Powers of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person (who is then called your Attorney) to act on your behalf in relation to your financial matters, or your personal matters, or both.
A financial matter is any matter relating to your financial or property affairs (such as buying and selling property for you, accessing your bank accounts to pay your bills, and dealing with Centrelink and the Tax Office).
A personal matter means any matter relating to your personal or lifestyle affairs (such as deciding where you should live, and arranging services like Meals On Wheels and Home Help).
Enduring Powers of Attorney are relatively flexible. You can put limits on your Attorney’s power to act for you, and appoint one or more people, together or separately, as your Attorney.
You decide when your Attorney can start to make decisions for you. Many people prefer their Attorney to be able to make decisions only after they have lost the ability to make those decisions themselves.
What are the key points that I should know about Enduring Powers of Attorney (Medical Treatment)?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) allows you to appoint a person (who is then called your Agent) to make decisions for you in relation to your medical treatment if you are unable to make such decisions for yourself.
They are relatively inflexible, and you can only appoint one person as your Agent and one back-up.
Your Agent may be required to make decisions such as giving consent to medical and dental treatment, including medication and surgery, and can refuse treatment on your behalf.
Your Agent’s authority to act on your behalf will only come into effect in the event that you do not have capacity to make decisions for yourself.
When should I prepare a Power of Attorney?
Right now! You should prepare a Power of Attorney while you have the capacity to do so, and not leave it until it is too late.