By Hadyn Oriti
Funny things can happen in life. One day everything’s running along just fine, then something comes along to remind you that you are only human.
Increasingly, as we age, we need to think about what arrangements we have in place for when we may not be able to look after everything as we do now. That’s where an attorney (as in a power of attorney) or an enduring guardian comes in.
Your attorney should be a trusted person who you appoint to manage your affairs and make decisions for you even if you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself.
A power of attorney is a very powerful document and enables your attorney to act with all the power that you may have to deal with your property and financial affairs. For example, they can operate your bank account and buy and sell property. The law provides that they must act in your best interests. But (and it is a big but) there is no one looking over their shoulder as they exercise the power; so you really do need to trust them (and have some checks and balances).
With respect to an Enduring Guardian, you should appoint a person you trust to make decisions about medical treatment you receive if you lose the capacity to do this for yourself. They may decide:
Importantly, your guardian may refuse medical treatment if you at a terminal stage and unconscious, even if that refusal of medical treatment was to lead to your death.
Accordingly, you must be satisfied that your guardian will carry out your wishes in respect of such matters.