An enduring power of attorney is just as important as a Will. Whilst a Will operates on your death, an enduring power of attorney operates during your lifetime.
An enduring power of attorney is a document that allows a person to appoint one or more attorneys to make financial and/or personal/health decisions on their behalf. The power to make person/health decisions begins in the event that you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. You can appoint an attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf at any time.
It can allow someone to handle your affairs if you go overseas, take an extended holiday or you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself as a result of poor health or an accident.
Financial decisions include deciding how your income should be invested or buying or selling a property.
Personal/health matters include decision about where and with whom you live, day-to-day issues such as diet and dress, whether you work and whether to consent, refuse to consent or withdraw consent to particular types of health care.
An attorney does not have power to make decisions about special personal matters such as a decision about your will, appointing someone as an attorney, voting at elections or consenting to marriage. They also do not have power to make decisions about special health matters, such as donation of body tissue, sterilisation, pregnancy termination or certain psychiatric health care.
Your attorney can consent to the withdrawing or withholding of life-sustaining medical treatment if you become terminally ill or go into a state of persistent unconsciousness. If you wish to give clear instructions about this type of decision you can make an Advance Health Directive. Instructions contained in an Advance Health Directive will override any decision of your attorney.
An enduring power of attorney document is an important estate planning tool that should not be overlooked.