GENERAL POWERS OF ATTORNEY – may be appropriate in circumstances where you are going on holidays or otherwise unavailable to attend to certain matters and you wish to appoint a person or persons to make decisions for you in your absence. The nature of those decisions and the time frame that power is granted can be particularised to suit. For example, your house is on the market and you are going for a trip overseas where contacting you may be difficult. You wish to appoint someone to deal with your property sale specifically and that decision making power is to end upon your return.
ENDURING POWERS OF ATTORNEY – essentially enduring powers of attorney are utilised to appoint a person or persons to make financial and/or personal decisions for you in the event you do not have capacity to make those decisions yourself. ‘Financial decisions’ meaning all decisions about your finances and assets including for example selling your home or other property, paying your mortgage and other bills, arranging for and calling in any insurances or superannuation entitlements, attending to your taxation obligations, investing and arranging for your ongoing financial needs. Banks, superannuation trustees, Centrelink….most organisations will not communicate with loved ones or family members trying to deal with your affairs on your behalf when you do not have capacity (whether that be temporarily or permanently), unless they have the appropriate authority. Enduring Powers of Attorney can ensure they have that authority when YOU need it. ‘Personal decisions’ refer to decisions such as where you live ie supportive living arrangements/aged care, down to the smallest of issues such as what podiatrist or hairdresser you attend. Akin to say a guardian of a minor.
A common misunderstanding is that these documents are not needed until one is in their elder years. However, they are important for every adult – whatever their age. Who would make decisions for you if you suddenly suffered a stroke or other condition affecting your cognition such as Alzheimers/Dementia; or if you were involved in a car accident leaving you with an acquired brain injury? It can happen to anyone, at any time. It is not pleasant to think about, however best to have these documents ‘in place, on the in case’.