A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a trusted person, the legal authority to act for you, and to make legally binding decisions on your behalf.
The Public Trustee and Guardian provides a professional service and will prepare your Enduring Power of Attorney, where you have nominated the Public Trustee and Guardian as your executor and also wish to appoint the Public Trustee and Guardian as your attorney for property and financial matters, for the determined fee set out in our Fees Fact Sheet.
Why have a Power of Attorney?
In case of accident, sudden illness, planned or unexpected absence, or when you just can't cope, you may need someone to manage your financial affairs.
A Power of Attorney is particularly useful:
- to relieve yourself of the day to day demands of financial paperwork and record keeping;
- as a safety net when travelling or to allow someone to handle your affairs in your absence;
- to avoid burdening family or friends with the responsibility of looking after your affairs; or
- if you are unable to manage your prosperity or financial affairs.
Appoint an Enduring Attorney: Make an appointment to create an Enduring Attorney where you'll be able to discuss your specific requirements, circumstances, and ask any questions you might have.
Types of Powers of Attorney
General Power of Attorney:
- only valid while you have legal capacity;
- useful if you are going away for an extended period and you do not want the authority to continue should you lose legal capacity; and
- usually drawn up for a specific purpose with specific or general powers.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA):
- continues to be valid even if you lose legal capacity due to disability or illness;
- may empower your attorney to make financial, property, lifestyle and health decisions;
- may be activated when required or upon loss of legal capacity; and
- allows your attorney to commence or to continue to manage your affairs even though you have become unable to give lawful instructions.
What is "legal capacity"?
This relates to a person's ability to fully understand the nature and implication of the document they are signing. It may relate to a person's state of mind or to their legal age (over 18 years).
Should any doubt arise about legal capacity, a medical report may be obtained confirming the person's ability to conduct his or her own financial affairs.
You may wish to appoint an attorney now but delay activation. In this way the documentation is prepared, signed and held, pending further advice.
You may place the responsibility of activating your power of attorney with your doctor, should illness or disability prevent you from giving instructions. In this instance your doctor would contact your appointed attorney.
The Public Trustee and Guardian encourages everyone with legal capacity to have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Many people do not realise just how important it is to appoint an attorney - often until it's too late.
If you have not appointed an attorney, and you lose legal capacity, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) may appoint a Financial Manager for you. This can be the Public Trustee and Guardian or some other individual or organisation.
A Financial Manager will act in a similar way to an attorney and is required to report at regular intervals to ACAT and to the Public Trustee and Guardian.
You may cancel your Power of Attorney in writing at any time, provided you have the legal capacity to do so.