What is an enduring power of attorney?
An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that outlines who you would like to manage your affairs during your lifetime. Usually, an enduring power of attorney takes effect when you lose capacity to manage your own affairs.
Losing capacity does not just happen to people who are ageing. It can happen at any time and this loss may be temporary or permanent—such as when due to mental disability, acquired brain injury or dementia.
Who should make an enduring power of attorney?
If you are over 18 and have capacity to understand the nature and the effect of the power you are giving, it’s important you plan for your future by making an enduring power of attorney.
What is an attorney?
An attorney is the person you name to manage your affairs. You can have more than one attorney. Attorneys can be appointed to manage your financial matters and/or your personal and health matters.
You can specify when your attorney’s powers begin and what powers they will have. This is often referred to as the ‘limits of your attorney’s powers’.
What does an attorney for financial matters take care of?
A financial attorney can do things such as:
- paying your bills
- preparing your tax returns
- managing your investments.
What does an attorney for personal and health matters take care of?
An attorney for personal matters can make decisions about where you will live, who you will live with and your recreational activities. An attorney for health matters can make certain medical decisions, including which treatment options and medicines you should have.
(This is not the same as an advanced health directive, which is something you can make in consultation with your doctor. Find out more about advanced health directives.)
An attorney is accountable
An attorney is personally accountable for their actions.
If they mismanage your affairs, whether deliberately or by negligence, they can be held liable. This can include facing court to recover money and even criminal charges.
The Public Guardian has powers to investigate complaints if an attorney (for financial, health or personal matters) is acting improperly.
Attorneys have been known to mismanage finances
There have been many cases of family or friends mismanaging their role as attorney. This can include selling a person’s assets and keeping the money for themselves or transferring ownership of assets.
When investigated, common responses are:
- ‘Mum wanted us to have the money.’
- ‘Dad doesn’t need the money and we do.’
- ‘The money is not doing them any good in the nursing home and we have a mortgage to pay.’
These types of reasons are generally not accepted by QCAT and may result in legal action to recoup money on behalf of the person with incapacity.
The Public Trustee as your attorney for financial matters
You can choose the Public Trustee to be your financial attorney—you can be sure that we are impartial and have your best interests at heart.
In some cases where a person has already lost capacity, we may be appointed as their financial administrator by The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Making an enduring power of attorney with the Public Trustee
We can help you to make your enduring power of attorney for a competitive fee. (And if you choose the Public Trustee to be your attorney, we will waive the preparation fee.)
To make an enduring power of attorney, you need to be able to:
- understand the nature and effect of a decision
- freely and voluntarily make those decisions
- communicate the decisions in some way.
An enduring power of attorney must also be witnessed correctly.
When we make an enduring power of attorney, we are able to witness it and supply you with a certified copy.
And, if you haven’t already, you can choose to make a Will (for free) at the same time.
- Common misconceptions about enduring powers of attorney
- Stories about powers of attorney—what can go wrong
- Call us on 1300 360 044
Request an appointment to make your enduring power of attorney today.Book an appointment