Written by: Alison Mitchell, Senior Lawyer in Wills & Estates and Practice Manager

Have you ever thought about what happens to everything and everyone you care about if you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you can’t make decisions? Whilst most of us have a Will in place or have thought about making a Will, it is equally as important to have considered and made arrangements for who will make important decisions for you when you are no longer able to. That is where an Enduring Power of Attorney comes in.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

 An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make decisions about personal matters (such as where you live), financial matters (such as paying bills) or both. This person is called an Attorney. The power endures (or continues) even if you are unable to make decisions in the future.

You can choose when the powers will commence, and you can limit the power to cover only specific matters.  It can also include all the decision-making you may require. You can make an Enduring Power of Attorney if you are 18 years or older and have the decision-making capacity to do so. An Enduring Power of Attorney can only be made for yourself – you cannot make one on behalf of someone else.

Your Attorney cannot make medical treatment decisions for you unless they are also your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.

Why have an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney gives you the comfort of knowing that if something does happen to you, someone you trust has the legal authority to make decisions. A correctly drafted Enduring Power of Attorney gives the person or people you nominate the authority to make decisions on your behalf. You can nominate who can make these decisions, what decisions can be made and what should be considered in making particular decisions. You can also nominate any limitations to making these decisions and when they can start making decisions on your behalf.

Importantly, the person or people you appoint are trusted by you. They will understand what is important to you and are willing to act on your wishes as far as possible. This is because you are giving them the power to make important decisions for you at what may be a vulnerable time of your life.

Who should I appoint as my Attorney?

You need to choose someone you trust to stand in your place. Someone to make the decisions you would make for yourself if you had the capacity. You can appoint more than one Attorney. If you decide to appoint more than one Attorney, you are able to decide how they will work together:

  • jointly meaning they must act together in all situations
  • jointly and severally meaning they can act together or separately
  • by majority

Who is an appropriate choice of Attorney is different for everyone. It is important to carefully consider your choices as whomever you appoint will make important decisions for you. It is essential that they understand your needs.  Furthermore, that they have the skills to manage your financial and legal affairs and your well-being to make decisions that would accord with your wishes.

Lawyers who draft Enduring Power of Attorney

Whyte Just & Moore Lawyers has a team of trusted advisors who can provide legal advice to you regarding your Enduring Power of Attorney and Medical Treatment Decision Maker documents. Having these important legal documents in place ensures your best interests are protected when your time comes.

As one of Geelong’s oldest legal firms, we’ve been assisting clients in preparing Enduring Powers of Attorney for years. Contact WJM on (03) 5222 2077 or email info@wjmlawyers.com.au for legal advice regarding your specific circumstances.