What is a Power of Attorney?


Do you need a power of attorney in Victoria? A power of attorney (POA) allows you to nominate someone to act in your interests if you are not able to do so. Appointing someone as your power of attorney can protect you if something happens and you need someone to manage your financial or personal affairs. When choosing a power of attorney, it’s important to select someone you trust completely. You can make your power of attorney with the help of a legal professional.


What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document stipulating who will make important decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

It may seem unlikely, but there could be a time in your life when you become incapacitated by injury or illness and are unable to make key decisions about your life and support. If you do not have capacity to make these choices, a power of attorney can take over the decision making for you.

Some of the important things that may need to be decided include issues such as where you live, how you spend your money, and what services you have access to. You can choose different types of power of attorney appointments depending on what kind of decisions you want made on your behalf. For example, an enduring power of attorney for financial matters can make decisions about your financial or property affairs, including managing any legal matters in respect to these. An enduring power of attorney for personal matters can make decisions about your care and personal welfare.

Without a power of attorney, you will not be able to choose who should make decisions on your behalf. Instead, someone will be appointed to act as an administrator or guardian for you, usually by the Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal. It can also lead to conflict between the people in your life who believe that they should be the one making these key decisions. Due to this possibility for conflict and confusion, it is recommended that all people nominate a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is separate from your will and only operates while you are alive. When you pass away, your power of attorney is no longer relevant.

How to Choose a Power of Attorney

Choosing a power of attorney is an important decision that should not be rushed. You want your power of attorney to be a trustworthy person who knows you well and who you believe will make decisions that are always in your best interests.

You can choose more than one person to be your attorney. This can sometimes be advisable when you have a few people in your life who you think should work together when making choices about your wellbeing. However, keep in mind that any conflict between your power of attorneys can cause issues for you, including delays in decisions. Choose people that will be on the same page and work well together.

How to Make a Power of Attorney

It is recommended that you work with an experienced lawyer to complete your legal documentation to appoint a power of attorney. Although it is possible to do this yourself, the paperwork is complicated and it’s very important that your wishes are accurately expressed and reflected in the document.

Once you complete your power of attorney documents, they will need to be witnessed by two adults. One of your witnesses must be an authorised person, such as a medical practitioner. A person who is being appointed as your power of attorney cannot act as witness. Relatives are also not allowed to be witnesses.

Medical Treatment Decision Maker

In addition to a power of attorney, you may want to appoint a medical treatment decision maker. This is a specific person who is able to make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to do so.

If you don’t have a medical treatment decision maker appointed, this right will automatically go to your spouse or domestic partner, your primary carer, or your first adult child.

Similar to a power of attorney, your nominated medical treatment decision maker should be a person who you trust and who you believe will make the best decisions for you. They should be someone who values your preferences and understands your cultural background and beliefs.

Do I need to work with a lawyer?

A lawyer with experience in wills and estates can assist you to draft your power of attorney documentation. They can also offer advice on the best person or people to appoint as your power of attorney and help you ensure that the document reflects your wishes. Some people also like to appoint their lawyer as their power of attorney, or to stipulate that any decisions made by the attorney need to be approved by their lawyer as well.