What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is an important legal document. You use it to authorise someone (ie, your attorney) to handle your legal and financial affairs on your behalf. Your power of attorney only has legal effect when you are alive and you have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. When you pass away or if you lose your mental capacity, your power of attorney will no longer be valid and your attorney will no longer be authorised to act on your behalf.

An enduring power of attorney is a power of attorney that continues to have effect even if you lose your mental capacity. The purpose of an enduring power of attorney is to authorise your attorney to handle your legal and financial affairs on your behalf when you are unable to handle them yourself.

Both the power of attorney and enduring power of attorney only relate to legal and financial matters. For example, your attorney can access your bank accounts or deal with your property. Your attorney cannot make decisions about your lifestyle, health or welfare. If you have lost your mental capacity and you are unable to look after yourself, then the person who can make these decisions on your behalf would be your guardian appointed under an enduring guardianship.