Power of attorney
The following information is general information and is not legal advice.
There are two types of power of attorney:
- general power of attorney
- enduring power of attorney.
Both types involve a formal agreement giving someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. It works like this:
- you sign a form giving power of attorney to the person of you choice
- you specify the types of decisions that the person you choose can make
- as your attorney, they can then act on your behalf if necessary.
The decisions that your attorney makes for you have the same legal force as if you had made them yourself.
If you are unable to make your own decisions, decisions can be made for you on a formal or an informal basis. Informal decisions can be made by an adult’s existing support network of family and close friends. This is distinct from decisions being made on a formal basis by an attorney appointed under an enduring power of attorney or advance health directive, a statutory health attorney, a guardian or administrator appointed by law or Court.
A power of attorney is also different to a Will. Making a Will allows you to state how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. A Will also allows you to choose an Executor who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are met.
General power of attorney
A General Power of Attorney involves you formally giving someone else the power to make financial decisions only on your behalf for a specific period/event. It is used while you have capacity – that is, you are still able to make your own decisions. The General Power of Attorney ends when you lose capacity – that is, you are not able to make your own decisions. For example, you might choose to appoint an attorney if you were going overseas and needed someone else to sell your house or pay your bills.
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make personal and/or financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make your own decisions.