Powers of Attorney

In today’s world, planning for an unknown future is something of increasing importance. The reality of your future may involve an accident or illness that takes away your capacity to make your own financial, medical, and residential decisions. To help safeguard your future, appointing a trusted person to help you make those decisions, as you would have, will give you the confidence to continue living life to the fullest.

 

What is a Power of Attorney?

When you are unable to make important decisions for yourself, and you have appointed a trusted friend or relative as your Attorney, they are legally allowed to make those decisions for you. They are required to sign a legal document that gives them certain decisional powers over your financial, personal, and medical affairs so that your money, property, and well-being are cared for in a way you approve of.

There are different types of power of attorney for different decisions.

  • Enduring Power of Attorney: At a time of your choosing or at the point where you no longer have the capacity to make decisions about your finances, your property, or paying your bills, an attorney appointed by you as an Enduring Power of Attorney will have the legal authority to act on your behalf to ensure your best interests are taken care of.
  • Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical): Wherever possible, your Attorney appointed as Medical Power of Attorney will be able to accept or refuse medical treatments, surgeries, and medication on your behalf. There are restrictions to their range of power.
  • General non-enduring power of attorney: appointed to make financial decisions for a specific purpose or set period of time (generally used in companies and not initiated by illness).

 

Who can be an Attorney?

You are free to make the decision of who your Attorney(s) are, you are even allowed to appoint multiple attorneys with different designations on how decisions are made.

Generally, a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend is chosen as someone’s Attorney, however, it’s important to consider that this person must: act in your best interest, make the same decisions you would, keep accurate records of their decisions on your behalf, avoid conflicts of interest and keep your finances and property separate to their own.

You can limit their range of power by choosing the tasks they are responsible for and which they aren’t; you can also appoint more than one so that they must make joint decisions or majority decisions. It’s also possible to appoint a backup in case your primary appointed Attorney is unavailable.


 

What can they do?

An Attorney’s duties begin when they are designated to. You can have them commence immediately

after the Power of Attorney document is signed, at a certain time or on the occurrence of a certain event.

If you choose for the Attorney’s powers to start on a specific date, or event, they cannot make decisions before that occurs.

An Attorney may also be required to provide evidence that you are no longer able to make decisions on your own behalf – this can be in the form of a medical certificate or letter from a medical professional.

 

An Attorney appointed as Enduring Power of Attorney can:

  • Make financial or legal decisions on your behalf
  • Manage your banking
  • Maintain your property
  • Pay your bills
  • Choose where you live
  • Decide how your healthcare is maintained

 

They can’t:

  • View or edit your will
  • Make medical decisions
  • Exercise personal powers, such as vote on your behalf

 

An Attorney appointed as Medical Power of Attorney can:

  • Agree or refuse medication or surgery
  • Agree or refuse your involvement in medical research
  • Refuse treatment if it will cause you distress or if you would warrant it unnecessary
  • Take precedence over an attorney with healthcare powers

 

They can’t:

  • Agree to treatment that will compromise your fertility
  • Terminate your pregnancy
  • Agree to the removal of tissue for a transplant
  • Refuse treatment to alleviate pain and suffering in palliative care

 

How to choose/appoint an Attorney?

Appointing an Attorney can be completed in four steps:

  1. Choose your Attorney or Attorneys.
  2. Advise them about your decision, and confirm they are happy to act as your Attorney.
  3. Instruct HG Legal to draft all required Powers of Attorney documents.
  4. Execute the Powers of Attorney in front of a fully qualified witness.

 

When does an Attorney’s authority end?

There are a few reasons why an Attorney is no longer required to make decisions on your behalf:

  • You recover or return to decision-making capacity.
  • You revoke their rights as your Attorney. You can do this by either filing a revocation or by appointing a new Attorney, which will overwrite the previous.
  • They can resign as your Attorney.
  • If you pass away, your Attorney is no longer able to make decisions on your behalf.

If you need assistance appointing an Attorney or have any questions on how to go about appointing one, Stuart and our Legal team are here to help you at any stage. Take control of your future and live life to the fullest. Contact us on 03 5224 2245 or legal@hrkacgroup.com.au.