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Power of Attorney: Reflecting and Appointing

When your circumstances change due to serious illness, particularly when you have received a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, it’s an opportunity to reflect on where you are currently placed financially, who you trust to make decisions on your behalf and ensuring that you have contacted all relevant people and organisations about your situation for support.

After reviewing your finances and insurances, you could benefit from creating, reviewing or appointing a Last Will, power of attorneys, advance care directive. It’s recommended that you seek advice from a solicitor when setting up the following:

  • Last Will. Your Will documents the split of assets to your loved ones in the way that you would like. Your Will should be stored in a safe location and copies held by your executor and solicitor. It’s important to have an estate plan to help to ease the bereavement experience for your loved ones and make it simpler for them to enact your final wishes when the time comes.
  • Power of Attorney (POA). A power of attorney is a legally binding document that appoints a trusted individual with the permissions to manage your financial affairs and assets while you are alive. The POA assumes that you are able to direct your nominated representative and that they will act as you have instructed for property and financial matters only. Selecting the right person to be your POA could make the difference between having a clear understanding of your financial position or potentially being financially vulnerable. A power of attorney will cease to operate if you lose capacity to make decisions yourself. To overcome this, you need to sign an enduring power of attorney.
  • Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA). An enduring power of attorney is a legal document in which you appoint another person to make property and financial decisions for you and continues even when you’ve lost legal capacity. Understanding that the EPOA will continue to operate when you have lost capacity, it is good to have informed your attorney of your wishes while you are healthy and aware.
  • Disclosure Authority Form (DAF). A simpler form of the POA is to have a DAF. This form allows a trusted friend, relative or advisor to deal with claims and forms on your behalf. It limits what they can do and does not allow them to make changes, withdraw or sign on your behalf.
  • Enduring Guardian (EG). This is the formal appointment of a person to make health, lifestyle and medical decisions on your behalf when you are not able to do it yourself and only becomes effective for the time that you experience incapacity. The enduring guardianship does not permit the nominated person to make financial decisions for you.
  • Advance Care Plan. If you are aware that the prognosis is long term, complex or terminal, you might like to consider creating your advance care plan. This a guide that you create for your medical professionals and loved ones specifically stating what your wishes are in the event you cannot make or communicate decisions about your medical treatment. Your GP can help you to create an advanced care plan and this plan is best shared with your enduring guardian and attorney, loved ones and treating specialists.

If you pass away, all powers of attorney automatically cease, and the executor of your Will becomes responsible for carrying out your wishes.

If you are unsure who to appoint as your power of attorney, enduring guardian or executor of your Will, contact your State/Territory Public Trustee for further information and assistance.