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Enduring powers of attorney

An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document giving someone the power to act for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself.  There are two types of EPA - one for your money and property and the other for your personal care and welfare.

Your money and property

You can appoint more than one 'attorney' for your money and property. You can activate this enduring power of attorney straight away and if you do, your attorney(s) can act for you on your instructions.

There may come a time when you are assessed by a qualified health practitioner as not being able to make these decisions yourself – from that point on your attorney will have the power to act for you.

Without an enduring power of attorney, no-one else can deal with your property or financial affairs on your behalf without a court order. Your family and even your partner or spouse may need to go to court to get this power. So if you don't have an EPA it can cause your loved ones a lot of stress, and cost them a lot of money.

Things your attorney can do for you include managing your bank accounts, paying your bills, or buying and selling property on your behalf.

Your personal care and welfare

You can only have one attorney for your personal care and welfare. This enduring power of attorney is only activated once you are assessed as not being able to care for yourself.

This type of attorney can make decisions about things like medical treatment.

Choosing your attorney

Your attorney should be someone you trust. You can appoint different people to be attorneys for the two different areas – but make sure they are people who can work well together!

Tip: Set up your EPA at the same time you make or update your will.

For your personal care and welfare the attorney can be a family member, friend, or anyone who you believe has your best interests at heart. It can only be one person and it cannot be a trustee company.

For a property EPA your attorney can be one or more people, or a professional trustee company.

Creating an enduring power of attorney

You are required to get independent legal advice before creating an enduring power of attorney, and to have any documents witnessed by a lawyer, qualified legal executive or representative of a trustee corporation. Even married couples need separate legal advisers.

An attorney must show a medical certificate confirming that the person they are acting for has lost the capacity to make decisions about their money and property or affairs.

For more information talk to a lawyer or your community law centre.

There's also helpful information and a booklet you can download on the AgeConcern website.