What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
Some people often refer to an Enduring Power of Attorney as a “Living Will”.
You can appoint a trusted person to act as your Attorney so that they can make decisions on your behalf.
What Are the Responsibilities of an Enduring Power of Attorney?
Your Attorney can generally do anything you can legally do yourself. It is important that you choose wisely. For example, your Attorney can buy and sell land on your behalf, operate bank accounts and enter into contracts.
What Does Enduring Power of Attorney Mean?
Some people ask what the “enduring” means. It means that the power you have granted to your Attorney to act on your behalf continues even if you lose your legal capacity to handle your own affairs. For example, if you have appointed someone to act as your Attorney and you later suffer from a severe case of Alzheimer's, your Attorney can still act on your behalf.
Why Should I Have an Enduring Power of Attorney?
If you lose your capacity to handle your own affairs, and if you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney, your loved ones are left in a difficult position. Generally, they will need to make an application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for orders permitting them to manage your affairs.
Does Enduring Power of Attorney Cover Medical Decisions?
Often your affairs need to be managed urgently, for example after a car accident, or after sudden onset of an illness. It takes time (and money) to make an application to QCAT. It is much easier and certainly more cost effective to pre-appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney to manage your affairs in the event that you become ill or lose your legal capacity. It is also a much less stressful option for your loved ones.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is not just there to cover the very important situation where you lose capacity due to illness, accident, or the like. For those people who travel overseas often, an Enduring Power of Attorney is an invaluable way of ensuring their affairs are being handled by a trusted person. For example, members of the Defence Force or business people with overseas business interests often appoint an Attorney who can act on their behalf immediately. That is, the document can be drafted in such a way that you do not need to have lost your capacity for the Attorney to act on your behalf.
If you wish to cancel or revoke an Enduring Power of Attorney, it is a very simple process. A form needs to be signed by yourself and a copy must be provided to your Attorney.
Given that your Attorney can do anything legally that you can do yourself, very careful consideration needs to be given to whom you appoint. There are strict laws that impose serious obligations on an Attorney to only act in your best interests. If an Attorney fails to do so, that Attorney can be removed and may be required to compensate you in appropriate circumstances.
For a free initial telephone discussion with an experienced Wills and Estates Lawyer, telephone our Brisbane office (07) 3236 9169 or complete the case review form on this page.