Enduring powers of attorney – “just in case”

Published by Megan Bawden on August 27, 2011

Enduring powers of attorney let you decide who can make important decisions about you and your property if you cannot.

 

Who can make decisions for me if I am not capable?

 

Have you ever thought about who would make decisions about what happens to you if the proverbial bus hits and you are left unable to make decisions for yourself?

Perhaps you think that your husband/wife or kids would decide what treatment you receive, where you live and who will care for you, and make sure that your property is managed and used to look after you. If so, keep reading.

Your “next of kin” has no automatic right to act for you if you cannot. If you want to be sure that they can, you need to appoint them as your attorney under an enduring power of attorney.

If you don’t have enduring powers of attorney your family may need to go to court to have a property manager and welfare guardian appointed to make those decisions.

That means instructing a lawyer, delay in getting those important decisions made, and more cost and stress for your family. In the end, the person appointed by the court might not be the person you would have wanted to act on your behalf.

No one likes to think that they might one day not be able to make decisions for themselves, especially while we are young and healthy. But accident and illness can strike at any age. So think of your enduring powers of attorney as an insurance policy – you hope it never needs to be used but do you really want to take the risk of not having it?

What do I need to do?

  1. Everyone over the age of 18 years should have enduring powers of attorney in relation to their property and their personal care and welfare.
  2. Think about who you trust most to act for you if you couldn’t make decisions for yourself. Your attorney needs to be over 20 years of age, not bankrupt, not mentally incapable, and able and willing to take on the responsibility of being your attorney.
  3. Talk to a lawyer about the options you have when appointing an attorney, and about how to go about it.
  4. Don’t delay.

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