A Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. There are different types of Powers of Attorney and the type suitable for you will depend on your circumstances and requirements.
Below is a brief description of the different types of Powers of Attorney you can have.
Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial)
An Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) enables you to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This may include managing banking and property matters on your behalf, and paying your bills etc.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) is a powerful and binding legal document and retains its validity (endures) even when you are no longer capable of handling your own affairs. However, you can revoke it at any time (provided you have the capacity to do so) and it is automatically revoked on your death. You can nominate when and under what circumstances your Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) becomes operational.
Enduring Power of Guardianship
An Enduring Power of Guardianship enables you to appoint a guardian to make health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf when you cannot make those decisions for yourself. For example, your guardian may be able to decide where you live, the services you may need, what healthcare you may require, or consent to medical and dental treatment on your behalf. You can choose to specify the type of decisions the guardian can make, those he or she cannot make, and any factors the guardian should take into account in making those decisions.
An Enduring Power of Guardianship only comes into effect if or when you are no longer capable of handling your own affairs and will only be effective during the period of your incapacity.
Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) – Victoria Only
An Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) enables you to appoint someone (an ‘Agent’) to make decisions about your medical treatment. ‘Medical Treatment’ includes major medical procedures such as operations or taking medicine or drugs. It does not include minor medical procedures involving pain relief or providing food and water. The Agent also has the power to refuse any medical treatment that would greatly distress you. The power of the Agent only takes effect after you become incapacitated.
Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) is only available in Victoria.
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney enables you to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf for a limited time when you are unavailable. A General Power of Attorney is often used for a specific purpose e.g. to appoint an attorney to sign all documents relating to the sale of your property. In this example, the document will cease to have effect once the sale of property has been completed.
Regardless of the duration of the power given, a General Power of Attorney will automatically become invalid if you become unable to make your own decisions.
Advance Care/Health Directive
In addition to the above Powers of Attorney, you may also wish to consider making an Advance Care/Health Directive.
An Advance Care/Health Directive is an essential component of advance care planning and allows you to plan your future medical care according to your beliefs, values and preferences. An Advance Care/Health Directive is specifically used to guide the decision making of the medical staff, your guardian (if one has been nominated) and your family, if you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions.