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Estate Group update: Changes to Powers of Attorney

Sep 17, 2014

Under current law a person can appoint:

  1. an attorney for financial and legal matters;
  2. a medical agent; and
  3. an guardian.

These appointments are currently contained in three separate documents.

From 1 September 2015, the Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) and Appointment of Enduring Guardian will be combined into one document.

Powers of Attorney (Financial) and Appointment of Enduring Guardians already executed will remain valid.

The new legislation has a few important features:

  • it provides greater certainty as to how an attorney can and cannot act;
  • it restricts who can be an attorney;
  • it imposes financial liability and criminal consequences for dishonest attorneys; and
  • it involves the donor in the decision making process.

Supportive Attorneys

The new legislation also allows a donor to appoint a person known as a ‘Supportive Attorney’.

This can be used where a person does not wish to give over full control (while they are capable) but wishes for another to have authority to support them in relation to their financial, personal and legal affairs.

This may be useful for elderly or disabled people who need support in the decision making process but still possess the capacity to make decisions.

The role of the Supportive Attorney ceases when the donor has lost capacity.

More information

If you would like to discuss the changes, please contact a member of our Estate Group on (03) 8600 8885.

Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.