Powers of Attorney & Health Directives

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document that appoints another person or persons to make decisions on your behalf for financial and/or personal/health matters and continues on should you lose the capacity to make these decisions. This could be if you lose the capacity through a long term illness or even if you are unconscious for a short period and decisions need to be made.

The types of decisions your attorney can make for you can include:

  • Financial matters: Paying your bills, dealing with Centrelink, selling or managing your property, investing your money
  • Personal/health matters: where you live, who you see, what health care you receive, your diet and dress

General Power of Attorney

A General Power of Attorney is a document that appoints another person to make decisions on your behalf about your financial affairs.  This power to make decisions will stop if you lose the capacity to manage your own affairs.  This kind of document is most often used for commercial entities and transactions.

Advance Health Directive

Advance Health Directives can help you plan what medical treatment or health care you would want to receive in the event you are too ill to make those kinds of decisions for yourself.

You can specify exactly what treatment is acceptable to you and what isn’t.  You’re also able to communicate special information to medical staff through this document, such as allergies, medications or religious beliefs that impact upon the types of treatments acceptable to you.

Without an Advance Health Directive in place there are no legal means to make your wishes known about when to stop or withhold life-sustaining measures.  Such wishes include whether you wish to receive CPR to keep your heart beating or assisted ventilation to keep you breathing.

This document allows you the opportunity to relieve your family and/or Attorney of the burden of making such difficult decisions in these situations and permits you to direct your family and medical staff of the exact health care and personal care you wish to receive.

Commonly Asked Questions

Anyone over the age of 18 who has the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the document, who makes the decisions in the document of their own free will and who can communicate clearly what those decisions are.

Right now, before you need it is the best possible time, especially if you are going into hospital, or if you have a medical condition which could deteriorate and diminish your ability to make decisions.

You need to appoint someone your trust to make the right decisions. You can appoint more than one person if you wish, and you can specify exactly how they make their decisions – jointly or  separately. For financial decisions, make sure that the person you appoint has the necessary skills to deal with your finances.

It’s really important that you discuss these documents with a lawyer who can give you professional advice about your particular circumstances. It’s also necessary for you to discuss your Advance Health Directive with your doctor, as they can explain the terminology involved. It’s also vital that you discuss your wishes with your family to avoid unnecessary conflict and stress.

Yes, it’s really important that your signature is witnessed before lawyer, a notary public, a commissioner for declarations or a justice of the peace. Your witness cannot be your attorney, a relative or a relative of your attorney, a health care provider or paid carer. With an Advance Health Directive your witness cannot be a beneficiary under your will.

Yes, as long as you still have the decision making capacity to do so you can revoke or change these documents. This has to be done in a legally binding way, however, so please seek legal advice.

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