An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person of your choice, that you trust to make decisions on your behalf. This person could be a family member, friend or a public guardian in some states. If you choose a family member or friend as the attorney, you need to have trust in them to make personal and financial decisions for you. The person or people that you appoint are named attorneys. An enduring power of attorney (EPOA) makes decisions for you on an indefinite basis, rather than at a specified time.
For personal matters, your appointed attorney can step in to make decisions on your behalf when you don’t have the capacity to do so (e.g. if you were in a coma).
For financial matters, you can decide when your attorney has the power to make decisions.
When it comes to financial matters, you could appoint the EPOA to buy or sell a property for you. They could even open a financial bank account for you.
For personal matters, the attorney could be appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. However, many people have advanced care or health directives in place that are legal documents indicating your health wishes when you’re unable to make such decisions on your own at the time.
Overall, the attorney that you appoint in the EPOA document can do anything that can’t be delegated by the law.
To make an EPOA you must have the cognitive ability to do so. Furthermore, it must be your decision and not something that you’re pressured into doing. To ensure this, the EPOA must be explained to you by a prescribed person. This person could be a registrar of the court, a solicitor, or a barrister. More often than not, people will get a lawyer to put the EPOA document together. That way, they can explain the document to you. They can also witness you signing it, as the document must also be witnessed by a prescribed person.
If you don’t have a person to appoint as an attorney, you can apply to the Public Guardian in your state to protect your rights if your cognition is impaired in regards to personal matters. You can also apply to the Public Trustee to appoint them as your EPOA for financial matters.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that each state and territory have varying rules regarding enduring power of attorney. Therefore, you’ll need to contact the agency in your state for more information.
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