As a firm that works regularly with clients in matters of estate, we often come across clients looking to create an Enduring Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Guardianship to protect their interests. The problem is – while many people may have heard dark and terrible tales about the things that can happen if you don’t have an appointed attorney or guardian, we often find that clients are unsure what these legal documents actually do.
“What is an Enduring Power of Attorney? What is an Enduring Power of Guardianship? What is the difference? Do I need one, or both?”
A person’s individual circumstances and affairs dictate what legal arrangements are best for them, but broadly speaking, it is often useful to have both an Attorney and Guardian in place, and there ARE key differences between the two.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (or EPA) allows a person to grant the authority to one or more people to manage their property and financial affairs on their behalf in any situation in which they themselves are unable to do so. For example, if you are required to leave the country but have urgent banking matters to deal with at home, you can leave this to your “Attorneys” to manage on your behalf.
An Enduring Power of Guardianship (or EPG), on the other hand, allows you to appoint a guardian or guardians to make decisions for you relating to your health and lifestyle should you be unable to make these judgements yourself. This can cover a broad range of responsibilities, including granting permission to doctors to provide medication or treatments should you fall ill, or managing your personal care and living arrangements.
As you might expect, both of these arrangements are of particular importance if you ever fall ill, are hospitalised, or lose the mental capacity to make decisions whether temporarily or permanently. Having an EPA and/or an EPG in place gives you the security and peace of mind to know that the matters of importance in your life will be taken care of if you cannot do this yourself at a later time.
For this reason, your attorney or guardian must ALWAYS be someone you can trust and depend upon to manage your affairs responsibly and purely in your best interests. You do not want to trust the management of your finances to a person you hardly know, only to see them subsequently run for the hills with your life savings.
A trusted spouse, parent, child or close friend is the best choice for ensuring your attorney or guardian makes the right decisions to suit your personal interests. We also recommend appointing joint attorneys/guardians, or primaries and substitutes for these roles, to ensure that your finances, property and health are in safe hands whatever may happen.