What is a General Power of Attorney?
A General Power of Attorney will be limited to only financial matters and can only be used (unless otherwise stated) until the person loses capacity. This type of document is used in cases where, say, a person goes overseas and needs a person to run their finances while they are away. These Powers of Attorneys can be very specific as to what the Attorney has the ability to control and can specify a time when the power ends (eg. Operating a business while the manager is overseas for 4 weeks).
A general power of attorney will usually only relate to financial matters.
What is an Enduring General Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney can deal with either or both health matters and financial matters. You can choose when you would like to start the Enduring Power of Attorney however an Enduring Power of Attorney will continue after you lose capacity to make legal decisions (thus “Enduring”). An ability to make health decisions will only ever commence upon you becoming incapacitated.
It is important to understand that an Enduring Power of Attorney is not an Advanced Health Directive. If you wish to be able to direct your Attorney to make certain decisions regarding terminating life support you would need to complete an Advanced health directive. If you wish to obtain an Advanced Health Directive please contact our office and we will be able to assist you.
Who can be an Attorney?
Anyone who is over the age of 18 years and not a paid carer can be a power of attorney for someone.
There can be more than 1 power of attorney elected and a power of attorney can outline the rules about how the power is to be implemented. For example, one attorney may be given the authority completely to make decisions in the first instance but if the person is not available then another person may have the ability to make decisions.
The rules regarding how your attorneys are to make decisions are endless and purely up to you.
When a Power of attorney is made in favour of your financial matters, this relates to any and all of your financial matters. This can be limited if stipulated in the POA. It means that a person can do anyone that you could have done in relation to financial matters such as withdraw money from a bank account, sign contracts, transfer property, enter into agreements on your behalf.
Personal Health Matters
Personal health matters relate to those issues that affect you personally, such as discuss matters with your doctor, agree for you to undergo surgery, put you into a nursing home.
A power of attorney that relates to your personal health matters does not give the attorney power to do such things as switch off life support. If you wish to have determined what should happen to them in the event of medical issues arising then you would need to complete an Advanced Health Directive.
How Long does a Power of Attorney remain in force for?
A power of attorney will remain in force until the time limit has expired as stipulated in the Power of Attorney or until the maker of the Power of Attorney dies.
While they may seem simple on the face of it, Powers of Attorney can be complicated documents which provide very wide powers to the attorney. They should not be entered into lightly and we strongly recommend that they are prepared by a lawyer prior to entering into the document.