Powers of Attorney

Are you leaving Australia and need someone to manage your affairs whilst you are away? Are you concerned about who will manage your affairs if you are sick or injured? You may need a power of attorney.

A ‘power of attorney’ is a document whereby a ‘Principal’ gives an ‘Attorney’ the power to act on their behalf. The power can come into effect immediately or after a specified time or event, and can allow the attorney to do anything the Principal can legally do themselves or be limited to specific actions, like personal or financial matters.

In Victoria powers of attorney are divided into two types, one for personal and financial matters and another for medial matters. A power of attorney for personal and financial matters can be either ‘General’, ‘Enduring’ or ‘Supportive’. A General power of attorney terminates if the Principal loses capacity, an Enduring power of attorney does not. A General power of attorney is usually used for financial matters only, for example, if the Principal is leaving Australia and wants another person to sign business documents on their behalf whilst they are away. An Enduring power of attorney is most often used in personal relationships, such as between family members. A Supportive attorney appointment differs from a General and Enduring power in that a Supportive attorney cannot make decisions for the Principal but rather provides support, for example in gathering documents and writing correspondence.

In Victoria, for medical matters the power of attorney is called an ‘Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker’ which is made in conjunction with an Advance Care Directive. Like an Enduring power of attorney an Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker’ remains in effect even if the Principal loses capacity. An Advance Care Directive is a document where the Principal documents their wishes and values in regard to medical procedures and events.

In New South Wales there are also two types of powers of attorneys, a Power of Attorney (either General or Enduring) which covers legal and financial matters and an Appointment of an Enduring Guardian which covers medical and personal matters.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) Administration and Guardianship

In Victoria if a person does not have a power of attorney (or for some reason the attorney cannot act on their behalf) or the Principal no longer has the capacity to appoint an Attorney then the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) can make an order appointing an Administrator and/or Guardian. An Administrator manages the person’s finances and a Guardian makes personal and medical decisions.

If you wish to discuss making a power of attorney, contact one of our lawyers at Seventh Street Legal, 158 Seventh Street, Mildura, Victoria, or call 03 5021 4276 for expert legal advice.