An enduring power of attorney is a very useful document to include in your legal armoury. An enduring power of attorney gives legal authority to your appointed attorney to deal with your assets and/or make personal care and welfare decisions in the event that you are not able to do this for yourself (whether temporarily or permanently).  Incapacity can occur as a result of an accident or by natural deterioration of the mind, and is assessed by a specialist who performs these assessments in the usual scope of their practice.

Actions performed by your appointed attorney have the same legal effect as if you had personally performed them yourself provided the attorney's actions are:

  • Authorised by your appointment;
  • Are in accordance with law governing their actions; and
  • The appointment had not been revoked and notified to the attorney at the time of the actions.

If you are assessed as being incapable of looking after your own property and/or personal care and welfare matters and you have not appointed an attorney to act on your behalf, the only option is for an application to be made to the court for the appointment of a property manager and/or welfare guardian. This is an expensive and very stressful process for you and your family, and the appointment is usually limited to a period of three years, at which stage a new application must be made.

Enduring powers of attorney aren't just for "old" people. Recently we have had two cases of people in their thirties who have been incapacitated by stroke. Neither of them had nominated attorneys. The families of both now have to use the Court process before anyone can make decisions for them in relation to their welfare or their assets and liabilities.

Enduring powers of attorney can save a lot of time, expense and stress at a time when you and your family do not want to be engaged in a legal process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.