What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a formal document which gives authority to another person to make financial, legal, personal or medical decisions on your behalf.
What is an Attorney?
The person you appoint is referred to as your ‘attorney’. The power given to your attorney can be given completely to your attorneys or limited to specific tasks or decisions. A Power of Attorney is a very important document because if you get sick or have any injury, having the power of attorney can help your family members take charge of financial and legal affairs in your absence. This means less disputes within your family as to who should be responsible for making these decisions. If you have lost capacity, your family will have a very difficult time dealing with banks or other asset holders if you are unable to give the person authority to act on your behalf.
Financial and Personal Enduring Power of Attorney
A Financial and Personal Enduring Power of Attorney gives authority to your attorney in relation to legal and financial decisions. This includes personal decisions, for example, where you live (ie nursing homes) or who you spend time with. You can appoint a sole attorney or several attorneys to make decisions either jointly or severally. You can also put in a condition that this document only comes into effect once you have lost the capacity to make your own decisions.
Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker
An Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker is another very important document. You can use this document to appoint a person who you believe will make the best decisions for you in relation to medical treatment and care. You can only appoint one attorney at a time however you can have alternate attorneys. Your Attorney will only be able to make these decisions for you when you do not have the capacity to make these decisions yourself.
If a Power of Attorney is not prepared properly, it may not be accepted so it is important that these documents are prepared by a qualified person.
General Non-Enduring Power of Attorney
A general non-enduring power of attorney is usually made when a person is unavailable for some time (usually due to travelling or sickness) and wants to appoint a person to make important finance related decisions in their absence.
A Supportive Attorney is made for those who need guidance from someone. It provides assistance to individuals for making important decisions. Anyone over the age of 18 who has good decision-making abilities can be given this authority. This document can help people who have a disability to promote their dignity and autonomy.
Can I prepare these documents myself?
There are kits and online services to help you prepare these documents yourself, however, you should note that there are strict requirements on who can witness these documents for you. It is important that you ensure that these documents have been prepared and witnessed correctly otherwise your attorneys will not be able to use them, should the need arise.