What is an Enduring Power of Attorney and why is it necessary?

An Enduring Power of Attorney (‘EPA’) is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more trusted individuals to make decisions about your financial and personal (including health) matters should you lose capacity to make these decisions on your own behalf.

An EPA is a forward-thinking document. It plans ahead for a situation where you lose capacity to manage your own affairs and outlines your wishes for your care ahead of time. For example, an EPA would come into effect should you experience a medical condition (such as a stroke) , mental illness or accident that impairs your decision making or ability to sign (such as paralysis) . You are also able to specify the circumstances under which your attorneys may begin exercising their decision-making powers. Ultimately, the document enables your loved ones to manage your affairs in accordance with your needs and best interests. Most of the time it is needed so that access to bank accounts, access to insurance, access to superannuation member benefits and a sale of  property is required to support you. Financial institutions are very tough on proving what powers the attorney has been granted, so very careful thought must go into the drafting of the special conditions and what actions an attorney can take.

At the end of 2020, the Queensland Government introduced a new EPA form which separates your attorneys’ decision-making powers into two sections: personal (including health) matters and financial matters.

Personal (including health) Matters

The first section of the form relates to personal and health matters. This covers decisions about your general welfare, including the support services that you may require and decisions regarding your place of residence.

The section also relates to decisions surrounding your health care, enabling your attorneys to make decisions regarding any medical treatments and services that you may require. If you have specific wishes about your future healthcare, an Advance Health Directive may be completed with the assistance of your General Practitioner to supplement your EPA. We will discuss this further in our blog post next week.

Financial Matters

You may also enable your attorneys to assume responsibility over your financial affairs should you lose capacity. This may relate to access to superannuation, making claims on insurance policies, managing your businesses, paying your expenses, selling your property or making investments on your behalf.

It is also worth noting that the new EPA form allows you to require that your attorneys notify you, or another trusted person, of the content of any decisions made on your behalf. This is an extra layer of accountability to ensure that your attorneys are acting in your best interests.

We recommend preparing an EPA as part of your strategic estate planning to support your loved ones in carrying out your wishes in the situation that you lose capacity. An EPA can also provide you with peace of mind, as you can be confident that your needs have been planned for ahead of time.

At Perspective Law, we can insert tailor made clauses to further maximise the protection that an EPA can offer. For more information, please give us a call on (07) 3317 4312.