The four types of Power of Attorney used in Victoria are as follows:
- General Power of Attorney which appoints someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf for a specific period of time, for example, if you are overseas and need someone to manage your financial affairs while you are away.
- Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial), which is used to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for you in the event that you lose the capacity to make those decisions yourself.
- Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment), which is used to appoint someone to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself.
- Enduring Power of Guardianship, which is used to appoint someone to make personal and lifestyle decisions on your behalf such as your living arrangements if you have lost the ability to make decisions for yourself.
Who can make a Power of Attorney or Guardianship? Anyone over the age of 18 who has the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the document, who makes the decisions in the document of their own free will and who can communicate clearly what those decisions are.
When should I make a Power of Attorney Appointment of Enduring Guardianship? Before you need them! These documents safeguard your interests in the event of something unforeseen – an accident or illness that robs you of your capacity to make decisions for yourself. It is better to be prepared and confident in knowing that the person you choose will be making important decisions about your money, your living arrangements and your health.
When does it start? For a Power of Attorney (Financial) it begins when you nominate that it should. Powers of Attorney (Medical Treatment) and Powers of Attorney (Guardianship) only commence when you are unable to make your own decisions.
Who should I appoint to be my Attorney or Guardian? You need to appoint someone your trust to make the right decisions. With a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) you can appoint more than one person to make the decisions jointly.
What are the legal responsibilities of my Attorney? They are legally responsible to you and must act in your best interests. While you have mental capacity they must obey your instructions. They cannot give gifts to themselves or to anyone else unless you specifically authorise this and they must keep their finances and money separate from yours, keeping accurate records of all of their dealings with your money.
Who should I talk to about it? It’s really important that you discuss these documents with a lawyer who can give you professional advice about your particular circumstances. It’s also vital that you discuss your wishes with your family to avoid unnecessary conflict and stress.
Do I need a witness? Yes, these documents need to be witnessed by a person with statutory authority such as a solicitor or Notary Public.
Can I change my mind? Yes, as long as you still have the decision making capacity to do so you can revoke or change these documents. This has to be done in a legally binding way, however, so please seek legal advice.
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