It is a common myth that an Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian document is only necessary for the elderly and/or sick, this myth is a dangerous misconception and chances are, if you are an adult, you need these documents.
What are they?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person or persons to manage your financial and legal affairs if you are unable to make these decisions. An Enduring Power of Attorney can do almost anything you would be able to do with your finances including;
- Operating bank accounts;
- Paying bills;
- Buying and selling real estate; and
- Managing investments.
An Appointment of Enduring Guardian is a legal document that appoints a person or persons to make decisions about your health and lifestyle if you are unable to make these decisions. An Enduring guardian can make decision about:
- What healthcare you receive;
- What dental care you receive;
- What personal services you receive including hairdressing; and
- Where you live.
Why does a young person need these documents?
Young does not mean invincible, and life happens, you may need someone you trust to make medical or financial decisions for you for a variety of reasons including a sudden illness, a serious accident (eg: car accident), and/or a surgery complication.
Young people often forget that in a blink of an eye they might need someone to make a decision for them and they should elect someone they trust to make these decisions so that other people cannot interfere.
Case study: Jenny 28, and Michael 30.
- Jenny and Michael are a young couple, they have been in a relationship for years but do not live together due to work and study, they enjoy hiking, mountain biking and outdoor activities.
- Jenny came to see us because Michael was in a mountain biking accident and he was in hospital suffering from a laceration and a brain injury which she was told he would eventually make a recovery from but currently cannot communicate his wishes or comprehend the situation.
- Jenny told us that Michael and her met at university and they have been together for approximately 6 years.
- Jenny told us that Michael does not get along with his parents and they do not see eye to eye in relation to religion, medical treatments and other issues.
- Jenny came to see us because she was distressed that the doctors would not allow her to make medical decisions for Michael and she was worried that Michael’s mother was making decisions for Michael that she knew Michael would disagree with.
- Michael does not have an Appointment of Enduring Guardian or an Enduring Power of Attorney.
- Because Michael did not have an Enduring Power of Attorney or Appointment of Enduring Guardian Jenny was forced to go through the long and stressful experience of being appointed Guardian through the NSW Trustee and Guardianship Tribunal. This process was stressful and took some time for Jenny and by the time Jenny was appointed Guardian Michael was able to communicate.
- Approximately a year after the experience Michael and Jenny met with us to update their Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian documents, Michael told us that he was very upset that his mother refused a blood transfusion for him due to her religious beliefs and if he was able to make the decision, he would have accepted the blood transfusion.
- If Michael had made an Appointment of Enduring Guardian and an Enduring Power of Attorney the person he trusted and appointed (Jenny) would have been able to make medical decisions for Michael.
It is important that you put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Enduring Guardian before you are injured or suffer an illness that affects your mental capacity because you are unable to execute these documents if you do not have mental capacity. Your loved ones may have to go through the long and stressful process of obtaining guardianship through the NSW Trustee and Guardianship Tribunal so that they can make decisions for you, or someone you don’t trust may make medical decisions on your behalf.
We have completed many Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian documents for young people who understand the importance of these documents.
Please do not hesitate to call us if you would like advice about these documents.