What is an Enduring Power of Attorney and what does it do?
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to determine who else is able to make decisions on your behalf. When you appoint an attorney, it can be to deal with health matters only, or financial matters only, or most commonly for both types of matters.
When would I need an Attorney?
You would need an Attorney at any time when you either can’t make your own decisions or aren’t available to sign paperwork.
If you travel regularly or are about to take an international trip, you may wish to give your attorney immediate financial powers. This would allow your attorney to keep your life moving (eg access your bank account to pay bills, sign a contract for the purchase or sale of a house, keep your business moving forward) while you are elsewhere. However with the ease of contact via the internet, this is less important in recent years.
You can also specify that your attorney is only authorised to act on your behalf once you have lost your own capacity to make decisions. This means that no one else can interfere in your affairs, unless or until you are seriously injured or so unwell that you cannot make decisions for yourself.
Why do I need to appoint someone? Won’t “they” know who to ask?
Legislation, such as the Privacy Act, protects you by making sure that no one else can make decisions for you, or access your private information. This protection means that formal steps need to be taken when you want others to be able to help you.
In our busy and complicated lives, it is not always clear to others who you would want to make decisions for you when you can’t. An Enduring Power of Attorney gives you peace of mind that if you were injured, or became very seriously ill, that only those you trust could make decisions about your health care, or financial matters.
Who should I appoint as Attorney?
Appointing someone as your attorney is a very serious matter. It authorises others to make any decision you can make.
Speaking plainly, an attorney could list your house for sale, access your bank account and authorise medical treatment. Therefore, it is important to be able to talk this appointment through with an experienced professional.
Can I change my Attorneys?
Relationships often change over the years. It is critical that you review your Attorneys and confirm that they are still the right person to act for you.
If things have changed, you can revoke someone’s role as Attorney, at any time, unless you have lost your capacity to make decisions. Then the appointment cannot be changed.
Advance Health Directive
What is an Advance Health Directive and what does it do?
This document requires involvement from both your legal and your medical advisors.
It allows you, while you are well, to make decisions around the health care to be provided to you in critical care circumstances.
Why would I need an Advance Health Directive?
An Advance Health Directive allows you to take responsibility for your own health care. It is another way that you can demonstrate to your family your willingness to be responsible for your own life and health care decisions.
If you do not prepare this directive, then your attorney (if you have appointed one) or your closest family members may well be faced with making very difficult health care decisions for you. Even if you have expressed your wishes to them, clearly there is no legal requirement for them to be followed, and your family or attorney may well carry lifelong guilt from any decision they make.
Show your family how much you care, by taking responsibility for your own health.