What to know about power of attorney

Planning for your future isn’t just about writing a will to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes once you pass away. Complementing this process with an Advance Health Directive (sometimes colloquially referred to as a living will) allows you to plan for a situation in which you have become incapacitated such that you may not be able to make decisions.

One important consideration is whether to appoint an attorney to act on your behalf. This will also be an important consideration for anyone looking to make an Advance Health Directive.

In Queensland, there are two – both general and enduring powers of attorney.

A General Power of Attorney  is a document which allows a person, the Principal, to appoint an Attorney to act on their behalf  refers to a in situations where the Principal has the capacity to make decisions but for various reasons, it is not convenient or appropriate for the Principal to act. For example, a General Power of Attorney may be used to appoint an Attorney to handle the Principal’s affairs within a particular jurisdiction while the Principal is outside of that jurisdiction.

A General Power of Attorney will automatically cease upon the Principal’s loss of legal capacity.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document which allows the Principal to appoint an Attorney whose power to act on their behalf does not cease upon the Principal’s loss of legal capacity. 

An Attorney under a Power of Attorney document may be given power to make decisions about either financial matters only, health/personal matters only or both.

Health/personal matters may include any decisions about your health/medical care or treatment. Financial matters may include the management of your real and personal property/assets.

To make a General or Enduring Power of Attorney, a Principal will need legal capacity to make this decision, meaning they will need to be capable of making the decision freely and understand the nature of the decision.

If you require assistance in succession planning,  including drafting a will or power of attorney, you may choose to discuss this with a wills and estates lawyer.