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What is a Power of Attorney? Do I need one?

By November 11, 2019 No Comments

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allow you to choose other people to make decisions on your behalf. Having a Power of Attorney in place is an important step toward ensuring your wishes are respected as you age.

Accident, illness or failing health can occur at any time. The time may come when you or a loved one loses the capacity to make informed decisions on the issues that affect you – such as finances, daily life, medical treatment or aged care.

That’s why it is a good idea to arrange a Power of Attorney.

You can choose to give someone you know and trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf.  The decisions made by someone you have granted Power of Attorney to have the same legal force as if you have made them yourself.

For this reason, choosing the right people to act as your Power of Attorney is extremely important. You need to trust the person (or people) to understand and respect your wishes should the need arise for them to make decisions on your behalf.

In the state of Victoria there are two key Powers of Attorney to consider:

  1. You can grant a trusted loved one an Enduring Power of Attorney (financial) to make decisions on legal and financial matters. This means that the person or people you choose can take control of your financial and legal affairs if you ever lose capacity.
  1. You can also appoint a Medical Treatment Decision Maker to make decisions about your medical treatment. The appointment begins if and when you are unable to make decisions about your medical treatment.

When appointing someone as your Power of Attorney or Medical Treatment Decision Maker it’s critical that you take the time to ensure they have a detailed understanding of your wishes should the need for them to act in this capacity arise.

Make sure your Power of Attorney understands how you wish your financial and legal affairs to be discharged. For example, if your Power of Attorney knows ahead of time that you do not wish certain assets, such as a family home, to be sold, they can take that into account when arranging for your admission into residential aged care.

Likewise, it’s crucial that you take the time to explain to your Medical Treatment Decision Maker your wishes and preferences for medical treatment. It’s a good idea to have a think about advanced care directives and then make sure you communicate those to your Decision Maker. 

For more information on appointing a Power of Attorney and  Medical Treatment Decision Maker, visit the website of the Office of the Public Advocate by clicking on the buttons below:

Advance Care Planning Australia also has some excellent resources to help you think about your future healthcare wishes:

Advance Care Planning Australia