What happens if you are outside the country and you need someone to urgently act on your behalf, or are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is the legal document which appoints someone (known as your Attorney) to make these decisions on your behalf. An EPOA can also appoint more than one person – either severally, jointly or unanimously. An Attorney can be appointed in two ways – to handle your financial matters, to handle your personal health matters or to handle both (recommended). The ‘enduring’ nature of an EPOA means that it continues in the event you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself.
You can nominate when your Attorney’s power for financial matters begins. For example, you may wish for it to begin immediately upon you signing the EPOA or at a nominated date (for example, if you were travelling overseas) or not until a specified occasion, such as when you were certified by a medical practitioner in being incapable of handling your own financial affairs.
Your Attorney’s power regarding your personal/health matters begins only when you are incapable of making those decisions for yourself.
An EPOA could prove invaluable if you are outside the country and require a document to be executed as a matter of urgency (contracts of sale, transfer documents etc.).
On the other hand, what happens if you have previously appointed someone as your Attorney and they are no longer able to act, or you have lost faith in them acting in your best interests (divorce, estrangement etc.)?
The consequences of not having an EPOA, or not having an up-to-date EPOA, can be far-reaching because this could involve you missing an important deadline, or decisions being made on your behalf by persons who you would not otherwise appoint.
Up-to-date EPOA’s are not just reassuring; it is the one document that provides YOU with the legal authority to appoint someone to act in your best interests and protect your financial interests and personal health matters.
If you are incapable of making your own decisions and do not have an EPOA, or your appointed attorney is not willing to act on your behalf, your family will likely be forced into costly and time-consuming delays.
An application to the Guardian and Administration Tribunal (GAAT) may be required for the appointment of your Attorney (known as your Administrator). If an agreement between the parties cannot be reached, the GAAT may appoint the Public Trustee to handle your financial affairs or the office of the Adult Guardian for your personal/health matters.
This predicament is easily overcome by preparing a simple EPOA and ensuring it remains up-to-date.
We strongly recommend that you prepare, or update, your EPOA as part of your Estate Planning review. We welcome you to contact our experienced Gold Coast lawyers team on (07) 5555 0000 to discuss your EPOA and other estate planning matters.