E8: Power of Attorney – what does it really mean?

Giving another person power over your affairs is one of the most important decisions you will make. In this episode, specialist in elder law Alice Mantel explains the differences between Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship.

The General Power of Attorney is limited in time and could be useful if you can’t manage your financial affairs such as paying bills for a limited period of time, for example if you are overseas.

An Enduring Power of Attorney gives another person or persons the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. It often applies when a person has dementia and needs another person to manage their financial affairs. It covers such things as online banking on another’s behalf and even arrange the sale of property to fund entry into a nursing home.

Enduring power of attorney must be given before a person has lost capacity to manage their own financial affairs and the ability to make informed decisions on their own behalf.

The Power of Attorney is flexible and can be limited to certain powers and made specific to certain tasks. It can be given to more than one person, which may be a good idea to avoid financial abuse.

Enduring Guardianship is about health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf if your decision-making ability becomes impaired. The guardian can make decisions for example on resuscitation according to your previously expressed wishes stated in your Advance Care Plan. Often a hospital will ask you to complete this plan before admission.

Complexities can arise when children and other family members disagree on financial and health matters, so it’s important to discuss and make your intentions clear before these arrangements are put in place.

These information links will help you find more information and appropriate forms.

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