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 to make financial and personal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make your own decisions.
Your Attorney can generally do anything you can legally do yourself so 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.
People quite often ask what "enduring" means in this context. 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 do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney and you lose your capacity to handle your own affairs you risk leaving your loved ones in a difficult position. In this case, they will need to make an application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to apply for orders that permit them to manage your affairs.
If you have an accident or suddenly fall ill, your affairs may need to be managed urgently. It is important to know that applying for a QCAT often takes time (and money) and can be quite stressful for your loved ones during this time. It is much easier and certainly more cost effective to pre-appoint someone to manage your affairs in the event that you become ill or lose your legal capacity.
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.
Cancelling or revoking an Enduring Power of Attorney is a very simple process if you wish to do so. A form needs to be signed by yourself and a copy must be provided to your Attorney.
It is imperative that you carefully consider who you appoint to be your Enduring Power of Attorney as they can do anything legally that you can do yourself. 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.