Enduring Powers of Attorney
A Living Will, more formally called an Enduring Power of Attorney in the ACT, is a legal document where you (donor) give someone (attorney) the power to make financial, medical and legal decisions for you, such as managing your banking, paying your bills or handling property and financial transactions.
The attorney does not have to be a lawyer, although they can be. Whoever you choose, your attorney’s decisions have the same legal force as if you had made them yourself.
‘Enduring’ means the power continues, even when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
How Does it Work?
- You complete, sign and have witnessed an Enduring Power of Attorney form (EPA).
- You specify in the document the powers you are giving and when they begin. You can also place restrictions, limitations and other conditions on the decisions your attorney can make.
- Your attorney then signs the acceptance section in the document.
Why would I give Someone this Power?
An EPA is the only way you have control over who will make decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so, whilst alive.
When would I have a Living Will?
- while overseas for work or on holiday
- while ill or in hospital for a short or lengthy period of time
- when you lose the capacity to make decisions for a short while, or permanently, such as, through:
- dementia; or
- a brain injury as a result of an accident; or
- unconsciousness relating to an illness.
What is Capacity?
Capacity is knowing what you are doing, understanding the consequences of your actions and being able to make choices based on your knowledge and understanding. To make an EPA you must have capacity to understand:
- the powers you are giving to your attorney
- when your attorney can exercise the powers
- you can revoke the powers at any time
- your attorney will have the power to operate when you can no longer make legal and financial decisions
- that once you lose capacity you will not be able to supervise how your attorney uses or applies the powers.
If there is any question about your capacity, an independent medical assessment should be obtained from either yourself or your attorney.
Your Attorney’s Responsibilities
By law your attorney must:
- act in your best interests
- make decisions the same decision you would have made (wherever possible)
- keep accurate records of the dealings and transactions they make under the EPA
- avoid situations with a conflict of interest
- keep your property and money separate from their own.