What is an enduring power of attorney?
If you’re concerned about the possibility of a health or mental health issue affecting your ability to make sound judgements in the future, one way to help protect your financial and personal security is by appointing someone you trust to make these decisions on your behalf.
Enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document that authorises one or more individuals to act on your behalf in circumstances where you are considered to have lost the capacity to make certain decisions for yourself.
What types of decisions can be made on my behalf?
You can specify the types of decisions and actions your appointed attorney can make. This also depends on where you live in Australia. This could include financial decisions such as:
- Investing your income
- Managing your assets
- Selling or renting property
- Paying bills
- Settling your debts
In Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, enduring power of attorney can also cover personal and health related matters, such as:
- Approving or withdrawing healthcare or medical care
- Where you live and who you live with
- Your diet, how you dress and other personal matters
These decisions are sometimes made under an enduring guardian arrangement.
When does this power begin?
You can decide when your appointed attorney can begin making decisions on your behalf. This is normally when you are considered to have lost the mental capacity to make sound decisions, especially in matters of health and wellbeing.
For certain financial decisions, you may prefer to define specific periods of time when someone can act for you. You will still continue to make decisions for yourself for as long as you have the mental capacity to do so.
Who should I appoint with power of attorney?
Giving someone the power of attorney over your finances and other matters is a big decision that needs to be made with care. For most people, this is a spouse, child, other family member or a trusted advisor, but you may appoint any competent adult who:
- is over 18 years of age
- is able and prepared to act on your behalf
- you trust to carry out your wishes and act in your best interests
You can appoint more than one attorney to handle the same or different decisions. In this case, you also need to decide whether they must act jointly or separately and whether all parties need to be in agreement or only a majority for a decision to be made.
How do I make an enduring power of attorney?
You must be aged 18 or over and of sound and capable mind to create an enduring power of attorney in Australia. You may complete the document yourself or with help from family lawyers who can make sure your interests are represented and will witness the document to make it legally binding.
If you are considering making an enduring power of attorney or you want more family law advice, call East Coast Family Law on 1300 735 947 to talk to a member of our team today. You can also download our free ebook below to find out more.