G’day, my name is Harley Wilkinson, I’m a solicitor in the wills and estates team at OMB Solicitors. I just wanted to speak briefly about enduring powers of attorney. Firstly, what they are, why you need one, what happens if you don’t have one.
So, an enduring power of attorney is a legal document by which you, as a principal, appoint one or more other people as your attorney to make decisions for you in the event that you’re involved in an accident, suffer a medical episode, or you’re just not able to look after your own affairs anymore.
Basically, the enduring power of attorney allows other people to step in and make decisions that you would otherwise be making for yourself after you’ve lost capacity. So these are really important if, say, you’re running a business or you’ve got affairs and other things that are going to keep going, something happens to you and you’re not able to look after that.
So pretty common one that I’ve seen in my experience here at OMB is elderly people who are getting on a little bit, they’ve got to move out of their home or their property that they’ve been living in for the last 20 or 30 years.
It might just be because their health is deteriorating or they’re just struggling to get around a bit more these days and they’ve got to go into an aged care facility.
Sometimes what can happen there is that these clients, something happens and they lose capacity and they aren’t actually able to sign off and transfer their interests in the property or the home they’ve got, and they’re not able to sign up to an accommodation agreement with aged care facilities.
So where there’s no enduring power of attorney or anything like that in place, what these guys need to go and do is apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and it’s usually children that get appointed as a administrator and as a guardian.
So, that’s what they have to go through in order to do that, get appointed so they can act and make decisions on behalf of a parent or another relative. Where someone’s got an enduring power of attorney set up, their enduring powers of attorney under the EPOA are able to liaise with aged care facilities.
They’re able to liaise with the title’s office and solicitors in order to sign contracts and sign the land titles forms that are required, firstly, in order to transfer property over to new buyers and then organise with the aged care, so that they can actually get mum or dad or whoever it is sorted out and into new accommodation.
We see these as being really important in those sorts of contexts. So, look, having said that, enduring powers of attorney and enduring documents aren’t just for people that are a little bit older or elderly, they’re also for young people as well.
If you’re involved in a motorbike accident or you’re out surfing on the weekend, you have a bit of a prang, something like that, you really need an enduring power of attorney that’s appointing a family member, a friend, a relative, someone that you can trust and rely on to make decisions that are in your best interests so they can actually step up and help you out and do that when you’ve lost capacity and you’re not able to yourself.
For example, if you’re involved in an accident, you’re in a car accident and you were in a coma, for instance, the enduring power of attorney is allowing someone to make decisions for you while you’re in that state.
So really important in order for you to receive the right medical care and the right treatment that you would otherwise be choosing had you not been involved in that situation to begin with.
In the absence of an enduring power of attorney, basically doctors and other medical professionals will take into account what your family and relatives are saying in terms of what they think is best for you.
But at the end of the day, doctors and other medical professionals aren’t going to be bound by any of that, which is why it’s really important that you’ve got an enduring power of attorney in place so that it’s properly and legally authorising those people to make those decisions for you and in some cases, they can be really important for your health and your treatment and that sort of thing.
We do a lot of enduring powers of attorneys here at OMB Solicitors. If you need some more information, if you want any help getting one done up, give our estates team a call today and have a chat with a solicitor.