Enduring Powers of Attorney and COVID-19

Enduring Powers of Attorney

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant social restrictions and is currently threatening the health of all age groups across our country, highlighting the importance of having a valid enduring power of attorney in place at all times.

Why should I have an enduring power of attorney?

An enduring power of attorney (“EPA”) is a legal document which allows you to authorise specific people to manage your affairs, in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. A correctly drafted EPA can provide you with the comfort of knowing that if something does happen to you, someone you trust will have the legal authority to make any necessary decisions in relation to your financial, personal and medical affairs.

If you lose capacity without an EPA in place, there may be no one with legal authority to manage your affairs. In this circumstance, your family or loved ones would then need to apply to the relevant authority in your jurisdiction to have someone appointed. The proper execution of an EPA can help avoid costs, delays and emotional distress when a family member or friend loses mental capacity.

An EPA is also useful to conduct your personal affairs or business if you are not able to physically attend to them yourself. This could be due to a physical disability, being overseas for extended periods of time or the current social distancing and quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus.

Why is it important to obtain legal advice before executing an enduring power of attorney?

While the standard forms used for EPAs can appear quite straight forward, an EPA can be tailored to appropriately suit your personal circumstances and legal advice in relation to this can be invaluable.

Our lawyers will provide you with advice in relation to whom you should appoint to make decisions on your behalf, what type of decisions can be made, any conditions, limitations or instructions which should be included in the document and when the powers should commence. Our lawyers will also explain in detail the nature and effect of the EPA to ensure that you fully and correctly understand the effect of the document.

Differences between the Australian States and Territories

The laws governing EPAs are state based and each of the states and territories have distinct and separate legislation.

In Queensland:

  • an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney‘ is for financial and/or personal and health related matters.

In New South Wales:

  • an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney‘ is for legal and financial matters; and
  • an ‘Appointment of Enduring Guardian’ is for medical, health and lifestyle matters.

In Victoria:

  • an Enduring Power of Attorney’ is for financial and/or personal matters; and
  • an ‘Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker’ is for medical treatment matters.

If you would like advice on obtaining a professionally drafted EPA and the peace of mind that accompanies it, please contact one of our three offices below or visit our website to get started online.

Brisbane:         (07) 3221 9744

Sydney:            (02) 9101 7000

Melbourne:      (03) 9975 7321 

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