While most people will already have a Will in place, very few people will make provisions for someone to make important decisions when they are not able to. That is where an Enduring Power of Attorney comes in. An Enduring Power of Attorney gives the person you nominate the power to make decisions on your behalf, whether that be about your property, legal or financial affairs.
When do you need an Enduring Power of Attorney?
If you are unfortunate enough to be in a position where you suddenly suffer a severe illness, you would need someone to manage your financial affairs for you. This would be someone that would deal with doctors, pay your bills on your behalf, manage your investments, make claims on insurance policies and keep your family life operating as best as possible. If you have not appointed an Enduring Power of Attorney, your partner, family and children will not have the authority to do many of these things on your behalf.
You can prepare your Enduring Power of Attorney at any time and indicate when you would like the authority to commence. This could be when a medical practitioner considers that you are no longer able to manage your affairs, or at some other nominated time. An Enduring Power of Attorney ceases to act on your behalf once you die.
What happens if I do not appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney?
Since your financial information is private and personal, if you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, the Public Guardian and Trustee takes over your affairs until someone else is appointed by the court. This can take time and be a stressful period for your friends and family, which is why it is important to set one up proactively.
Can I change my mind about an Enduring Power of Attorney?
You can revoke your Power of Attorney if, for some reason, you no longer believe your attorney is acting in accordance with your wishes. You can do this at any time, in writing, as long as you have the capacity to do so.
Who should be my Enduring Power of Attorney?
It is important to think carefully about your choice of attorney. Whoever you choose to appoint will make important decisions for you, so it is essential you choose someone who understands your wishes and has the skills to manage your financial and legal affairs according to those desires.
Find someone that you trust who is willing to take on this important responsibility for you. They must also:
- be at least 18 years old;
- not be your paid carer;
- not be your health provider;
- not be service provider for a residential service where you are resident; and
- not be bankrupt.
If you need to talk to someone about your individual circumstances or the roles and responsibilities of an Enduring Power of Attorney acting on your behalf, speak to a qualified lawyer today.