A colleague of mine explains powers of attorney as “a photocopy of your decision-making power”. It’s a good description. The purpose of powers of attorney is to enable another person to make decisions for you, usually in circumstances where you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.
If you do suffer impaired decision-making capacity and you do not have an enduring power of attorney in place, you will have no say in regard to choosing the person you trust most in the world to make decisions for you.
The purpose of making an enduring power of attorney when you are healthy is to appoint the persons you trust most to make decisions for you, in the event that you do one day suffer impaired decision-making capacity.
In Queensland, enduring powers of attorney continue to be effective if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. A difficulty with losing decision-making capacity is that usually, in addition to lost decision-making capacity, you have lost the ability to supervise the actions taken by your attorney on your behalf. And, sometimes, attorneys do not act in the best interests of their principal – that is – you, the person who appointed them.
Fortunately, the law in Queensland provides remedies for people who lose property because of the actions of an attorney. Later this month, I will be speaking at the Queensland Law Society Symposium on this topic, about the remedies that are available under the Powers of Attorney Act and under the general law.