The year 2020 has proven challenging for the world and has demonstrated that it may be impossible to predict what the future holds. This is why it is just as important, if not more important, to appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney, as it is to make a Will. Accident, injury and illness are unfortunately common, and can leave you without capacity, and without the ability to properly manage your affairs. It is therefore necessary you appoint someone you trust to make decisions that are in your best interests, should something happen to you.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a document which is used to appoint someone else to manage your affairs in the event you become incapable. For example, you might be injured in a car accident and become unconscious for several months, or you may be at risk of suffering dementia later in life. In these circumstances, your attorney can manage your affairs while you are unable to do so. You may appoint one or more persons to act as your attorney, and if you appoint more than one you can direct them to act jointly or alone.
What power does an attorney have?
You can appoint your attorney to manage either, or both, your financial affairs and your personal health. Your attorney can, with some exceptions, make whatever decisions you could make yourself. For example, your attorney can operate your bank account, or enter into a binding contract on your behalf. An attorney can make decisions relating to your health care and personal wellbeing.
When does an Enduring Power of Attorney come into effect?
You can direct when the power to your attorney comes into effect. For financial matters it may commence immediately or only when you have impaired capacity. For personal and health matters, your EPOA commences when you have impaired capacity.
Can I change my Enduring Power of Attorney to appoint someone else?
Yes, as long as you have capacity you can make changes at any time.
What are the benefits of having an Enduring Power of Attorney?
Having an EPOA, appropriately drawn up by a legal professional, allows you and your family to have peace of mind that should the unexpected occur, someone has already been given the power to handle your affairs.
An EPOA gives you security in your day-to-day life. Without an EPOA there may be considerable costs associated with dealing with your affairs. By having an EPOA, you can be confident that such costs can be avoided as your affairs will be handled by the person or people have you appointed.
Do I need to update my Enduring Power of Attorney document on 30 November 2020?
As you may be aware, on 30 November 2020 several changes will be made to Queensland’s guardianship system, including the format of the Enduring Power of Attorney document. However, this does not mean you will need to update your EPOA document if it was signed before 30 November 2020. Your EPOA, signed prior to this date, will continue to be a legally binding document.
If you are signing an EPOA document after 30 November 2020, the new format will be used by your legal practitioner.
The experienced lawyers in our Wills and Estates Team Will be happy to assist you to make an EPOA.
This article was prepared by our Wills and Estates lawyers, led by Jon Wiedman, Director. If you need to make your Will, prepare other estate planning documents, or to obtain legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please make an appointment with our office on (07) 4637 6300 or alternatively, send us a direct online enquiry.