Enduring Powers of Attorney / Advanced Health Directives

What is an Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOA) and do I need one?  In brief, an EPOA is a legal document that authorizes another person or corporate trustee to act on your behalf.

There are two types of EPOA, one for finances and one for personal (health) matters.  You can appoint the same person to act as your attorney for both finance and your personal matters.  Or you can appoint more than one person to act as your attorney. Then you can decide if you want them to act jointly or severally. You can also specify any wishes or preferences you have.

You can choose when you want your attorney for finances to be able to act. However your attorney for health can only act once you no longer have capacity to make decisions as confirmed by a medical practitioner.

Enduring Power of Attorney

We refer to an EPOA as a bottom drawer document. Everyone should have one prepared, put it away and hopefully never need it. But it is there if circumstances arise that require one.

We have all known or heard of a family member suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and decisions that need to be made regarding their finances or health. Or when a person suffers a stroke or is in a car accident and suffers a brain injury.  An already stressful time can be exacerbated if the affected person does not have an EPOA and a court application is required to appoint someone to act on their behalf.

The EPOA has space for you to set out your views, wishes and preferences that you would like your attorney to know when making decisions for you.  There is also space for you to write any general terms and instructions for your attorney. Also for you to set out who you want your attorney to notify when acting on your behalf.

Advance Health Directive

An EPOA is separate from your Will and an Advance Health Directive.  An EPOA is for when you are alive, and your Will comes into effect when you pass away.   An Advance Health Directive goes further than an EPOA for health matters. This must be signed off by a Health Practitioner to confirm you understand the effects and implications.  This gives specific directions regarding your wishes for your health care and can be given direct to your health care provider rather than your attorney making those decisions.

An Advance Health Directive only comes into effect if you lose capacity and are unable to communicate your instructions regarding your health care.  The form provides for you to set out your health conditions and concerns and your views, wishes and preferences.  The form then asks you to set out what things worry you about your future. Any cultural/religious or spiritual beliefs you would like taken into account in your health care. And what would be important to you when you are nearing death.  These questions can be distressing to think about and require careful consideration.  The form then has space for you to provide the details of people you would like to be involved in discussions about your health care and those you do not want involved in discussions about your health care.

As with all legal documents, an Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Directive should be reviewed from time to time to ensure they continue to meet your objectives.  If you have any questions regarding an EPOA, Will or Advance Health Directive please contact our teamOur business is protecting yours.