Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs), Enduring Powers of Guardianship (EPGs) and Advanced Health Directives (AHDs) allow you to have control over your financial and personal affairs in circumstances where you would not otherwise have control. These documents are becoming increasingly popular and important in managing the affairs of our aging population; and are also important for adults of all ages, however, many people do not understand the difference and interaction between them.
Under a properly executed EPA you appoint a person or persons to make financial and property decisions on your behalf. You can appoint up to two attorneys and two substitute attorneys. If you appoint more than one attorney you must choose whether those attorneys must act together (jointly) or if the decision of one attorney is sufficient (severally). Your EPA may grant attorneys the power to make decisions immediately upon you signing the EPA or alternatively only upon the State Administrative Tribunal declaring you have lost capacity to make your own decisions.
Your attorney’s powers can include paying your bills, accessing your bank accounts and buying, selling and mortgaging your land.
Under a properly executed EPG you appoint someone to make personal, lifestyle and medical treatment decisions for you. You can appoint any number of guardians and any number of substitute guardians. Guardians must always act jointly which means their decisions must be unanimous. An EPG only takes effect in circumstances where you are incapable of making your own decisions.
Your guardian’s powers can include making medical treatment decisions and choosing an appropriate care facility where you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
When acting under an EPA or EPG, your attorneys and guardians must always act in your best interests.
An AHD (commonly referred to as a “living will”) is a written description of what medical treatment you want or do not want to receive in certain circumstances. Your AHD only takes effect upon loss of capacity and overrides the decisions of any appointed guardian under an EPG.
There are specific rules around the preparation and signing of EPAs, EPGs and AHDs and as such they should be prepared and witnessed by a suitably qualified professional.
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.