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What is an enduring power of attorney and do you need one?

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the power to make decisions for you and act on your behalf, even after you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself.  The power of attorney can cover financial issues and personal issues (including your medical care and living arrangements).

It is quite easy to make an enduring power of attorney.  In Queensland, there is a form available from the website of the Department of Justice and it is easy to fill out yourself.  It does have special witnessing requirements – a lawyer, justice of the peace, commissioner for declarations or a notary public has to witness your signature and say that you appeared to understand the effect of the document.

While it is easy to make an enduring power of attorney, it is a very important legal step, and you should think carefully about your choice of attorney.  The person you appoint will be able to deal with your property and make important life decisions for you.  You should only appoint someone in whom you have absolute trust and confidence.

Taking on the responsibility of being appointed as an attorney is also an important step.  You should make sure you understand the responsibilities you will have, and you should talk to the person appointing you about what sort of decisions they would want made if they lost capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Unfortunately, there are some cases where a power of attorney is abused.  The Adult Guardian can investigate abuse of a power of attorney for a person with impaired capacity.

No-one likes to think about losing capacity to make decisions because of accident or illness, but having an enduring power of attorney in place means that there is one less legal issue for your family or friends to worry about if that happens.