Powers of Attorney

At certain stages of our lives, it becomes important to consider what will happen if you become unable to make decisions for yourself, or require assistance.

While you may not consider a power of attorney of any kind to be necessary at your stage in life, should something occur unexpectedly which renders you unable to make decisions for yourself, having an attorney in place to act on your behalf and in your interests is a sensible precaution and should give you peace of mind.

The cost of what is required if you lose capacity but do not have a power of attorney in place, being an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, far exceeds the cost of preparing a power of attorney.

Aitken Partners are experts in the preparation of the two types of Power of Attorney available:

  1. a power of attorney for personal, financial or both matters:
    1. a power of attorney for personal matters enables the attorney to make decisions on behalf of the principal (the person making the power of attorney) relating to the principal's personal or lifestyle affairs, including legal matters relating to the principal's personal or lifestyle affairs. For example deciding where and with whom the principal is to live with, whether the principal can work and, if so, what kind of work, daily living issues such as diet and dress and certain health care matters (not covered by the medical power of attorney).
    2. a power of attorney for financial matters enables the attorney to make decisions on behalf of the principal relating to the principal’s financial or property affairs including any legal matters relating to the principal's financial or property affairs. For example, operating bank accounts, dealing with the principal's property, paying expenses, carrying on businesses or performing any contracts.

This document can be structured to come into effect immediately, should you lose decision making capacity or in other circumstances such as if you are outside of Victoria.

You are also able to place a number of conditions or restrictions on the power, and these should be properly considered.

  1. a medical power of attorney which, should you lose capacity to give informed consent, allows the attorney to make decisions about medical matters on the donor’s behalf (the personal making the power of attorney) including refusing medical treatment.

For those who frequently travel outside Victoria, a power of attorney can also be structured so that it is operational when you are outside of the State. If it is necessary, your attorney then can stand in your shoes in a financial sense if something needs to be signed or payments need to be made.

You may be familiar, or previously had documents prepared, under the old regime in Victoria which allowed for the use of three types of Power of Attorney: a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and an enduring guardian. If you currently have these documents in place, and they were prepared prior to 1 September 2015, the current Powers of Attorney Act 2015 will not affect their validity. Aitken Partners can however assist you in reviewing these documents to ensure they adequately cover your needs.

Having powers of attorney in place should give you peace of mind that if something unexpected happens, you have a trusted individual(s) to act on your behalf and in your personal interests.