There’s more to Estate Planning than Wills.
Most people are familiar with what a Will is and why it is important. However, fewer people are aware of the different documents that can be prepared to protect your health and financial interests whilst alive, but unable to attend to your own affairs.
What is an Enduring Guardian appointment?
An Enduring Guardian appointment is a legal document that allows someone else, such as a trusted family member or friend, to make health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf when you have lost the capacity to make your own decisions. An Enduring Guardianship will only come into effect if or when you lose capacity and will only be effective during the period of incapacity. They may make decisions about things such as where you live and what medical treatment you receive. They cannot make decisions about your financial affairs.
You may choose to appoint one or multiple Enduring Guardians. If you appoint more than one you will need to specify whether they are to act jointly, severally, or jointly and severally. It is important that you make your Enduring Guardian aware of their appointment as they will need to choose whether to accept or reject it.
An Advance Care Plan and Advance Care Directive can also be prepared to give guidance to those around you when difficult health decisions need to be made. These documents outline directions, including your wishes and values that need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on your behalf.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to nominate one or more persons (attorneys) to act on your behalf. Attorneys will have the authority to manage your legal and financial affairs, including buying and selling real estate, shares and other assets, operating your bank accounts, and spending money on your behalf. They cannot make decisions about your health and lifestyle.
You may set whatever conditions and limitations on your attorney that you choose. An attorney must comply with the Powers of Attorney Act 2003 and must always act in your best interests.
A Power of Attorney may be general or enduring. A general Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time and will cease if you lose your mental capacity. An enduring Power of Attorney continues even if for any reason you lose the mental capacity to manage your own affairs.
Similarly to an Enduring Guardian, you may choose to appoint one or multiple Power of Attorneys. If you appoint more than one you will need to specify whether they are to act jointly, severally or, jointly and severally. It is important that you make your Power of Attorney aware of their appointment as they will need to choose whether to accept or reject it.
If you would like to prepare an Enduring Guardian appointment or Power of Attorney or require Estate Planning advice, contact WMD Law on (02) 9525 8688.