Power of attorney and guardianship

As people get older they need to make arrangements on how to handle their estate, and their personal interests in the event of sickness or death.

These include:

Enduring guardianship

A guardian is essentially a legally appointed substitute decision-maker. A guardian is granted powers only as is necessary to accomplish what an individual cannot do independently.

Individuals can choose to create a legal document called an ‘enduring power of guardianship’ that authorises a person to make personal, lifestyle or treatment decisions on behalf of themselves.  A guardian can also be appointed by the courts. Unlike the power of attorney, each state has a guardianship board or tribunal which supervises the guardian.

The most common functions of a guardian are making decisions on accommodation, health care and medical and dental treatment.

Enduring power of attorney (financial)

A financial ‘enduring power of attorney’ is a legal document that remains valid if the nominator becomes mentally incompetent.  The agent who is appointed can make any legal or financial decisions on the nominator’s behalf.

The appointed attorney is able to make a decision on property or financial affairs, for example, operate bank accounts, pay bills and purchase and sell property.

Enduring power of attorney (medical treatment)

An enduring power of attorney for medical treatment authorises the agent to make decisions about an individual’s medical care and treatment. This power takes effect if, and when, the nominator becomes incapacitated, whether temporarily or permanently.

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