When you are healthy and fit, you tend to take for granted your ability to manage your own lifestyle, autonomously and independently. The unfortunate reality is that something could happen to you at any moment, that takes your independence from you either temporarily or permanently.
We never know what life will bring us, so appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney is a very important part of planning for your future and ensuring your affairs will be looked after in the event you can no longer make your own decisions.
An Enduring Power of Attorney holds the same importance as a Will. Your Will works to protect your wishes once you have passed away. What if you’re still alive but are incapable of making your own decisions? An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint somebody you trust to make financial and some personal decisions on your behalf.
What will my Attorney do?
Some of the tasks your Attorney may undertake on your behalf are:
- Paying your bills;
- Managing your real estate (e.g. selling or renting) or finding you a new or more suitable home to live in;
- Signing documents on your behalf;
- Managing your money etc.
Essentially, in the absence of any expressed conditions or limitations, your Attorney can do anything you could do with your finances, within the law.
The powers of your appointed Attorney will “endure” (in other words continue) even if you all of a sudden cannot make your own decisions.
To complete a legally binding Power of Attorney you must be 18 years old or older and of sound mind. Therefore, the ideal time to make an Enduring Power of Attorney is when you are fit and healthy.
When should I complete my Enduring Power of Attorney?
For most, the time is now. Once you have lost capacity you can no longer appoint this person yourself.
What happens if I don’t do one?
In Victoria, if you lose capacity before you have appointed an Attorney, your spouse or close family member will need to apply to the Guardianship Tribunal within the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (also known as VCAT) for a Guardianship or Administration Order. This will allow them to manage your affairs. However, it is important to note that if the Tribunal don’t think that person is fit for the role, they have the power to appoint a third party to act as Guardian or Administrator.
The need to make this Application, in most circumstances, can and should be avoided for your own and your family’s’ benefit.
Who should I appoint?
It is important that the person that you choose is able and willing to step into this role. It is also vital that the person you choose is someone that you trust to act in your best interest, at all times.
How Long do they Last?
These documents are effective indefinitely unless:
- They are revoked (either by the person who made them or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal); or
- The person who made them passes away.
How do I complete one?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is an important legal document and there are risks to preparing one on your own. Appointing the wrong person could have dire consequences!
We strongly advise you contact an experienced lawyer who will take the time to explain all of the possible outcomes to you. Your lawyer can also ensure the document is correctly signed and witnessed.