An enduring power of attorney is a document that appoints another person (or people) to act as your attorney for financial and/or health and personal matters. Your attorney is able to act on your behalf should you become incapable of acting for yourself in the event of illness or an accident.

What do health and personal matters include?

Your attorney can make decisions about the following matters:

  • Consent or refusal of consent for medical treatment (for example an operation);
  • Where you live;
  • Whether you work;
  • Your day-to-day care.
  • Health and personal matters do not include power to make decisions about the following issues:
  • Whether to terminate life support systems;
  • Whether to withhold life-sustaining treatment;
  • Experimental health care;
  • Donation of body tissues;
  • Making a will;
  • Appointing another attorney.

Your attorney can make decisions about payment of rent or mortgage, payment of bills, investment of money, and sale of property. In simple terms your attorney can do anything in relation to finance matters you yourself can do subject to any limitations or restrictions you set out in the Power of Attorney document.

With personal and health matters, the attorney can only act if you become incapable (whether temporarily or permanently) of acting for yourself. With financial matters, you can specify when the power of attorney comes into effect. If you make no specification, the power of attorney will come into effect immediately. You can also limit the powers you give your attorney.

When you appoint your spouse, partner or a friend who you trust as your attorney, you ensure that they have the power to make medical decisions for you,should you become incapable of making the decisions yourself. When you appoint an attorney in relation to financial matters, you ensure that your financial affairs will be properly managed if you become incapable of attending to them.

The form for an enduring power of attorney is a standard document. Your solicitor can prepare the enduring power of attorney for you or you can obtain a form from your newsagent or GoPrint (the government printer). If you do not have the form prepared by a solicitor, you should read the document carefully to make sure you complete it correctly. Your signature must be witnessed and the form specifies who may act as a witness. The form must also be signed by your attorney’s.