Monday, 23 May 2011

I have been dealing with

legal matters. My father's brother is no longer considered competent to handle his own affairs and various powers have now "kicked in" or are being used to a greater extent.
There is an Enduring Power of Attorney, a Limited Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Guardianship.
My uncle is legally blind so a Limited Power of Attorney has long been granted to a very close friend. He pays the day-to-day bills with scrupulous honesty. My uncle's good fortune in having such a friend cannot be underestimated. His friend has access to two bank accounts, each for a different purpose. He has been paying the utitility bills, insurance etc. He insists on sending copies of all the paperwork to my cousin. We have no concerns about that.
The Medical Power of Attorney allows my cousin to make decisions specifically about medical matters. My sister and I had the same power for our mother and we also have it for our father. The MPA allows us to act in accordance with the wishes of our parents if/when they cannot make those decisions.
The Enduring Power of Attorney allows my cousin and my father to handle my uncle's other financial affairs. They can, if it is considered necessary, even sell his home in order to provide the money for him to enter a nursing home. They can dispose of his assets for his benefit and do any number of other things - as long as they are for the benefit of my uncle. My sister and I have the same power for my father. We would not however make a major decision without also consulting my brother. He lives a long distance away and felt it was unwise for him to be formally included.
My cousin lives in London and insisted on my father being included because, while older than his brother, he enjoys better health and he is more immediately available. I am, at the request of my cousin, there in the background to advise my father if my cousin is not available.
The Enduring Power of Guardianship has allowed those things to continue despite my uncle being declared incompetent. It covers other matters as well. My cousin must now be consulted instead of my uncle's ramblings being taken as his wishes. Without this power he would have been able to go home without any support services.
All these things are important. They are simple enough documents but there are complex powers involved. They all involve a degree of responsibility that makes my father anxious.
I would prefer not to have the responsibilities at all but I know that someone may one day have to take on the same responsibilities for me. We all need someone to take responsibility for us in the event of our unwanted incompetence.

4 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

Perhaps it is a State thing, but all of those documents would be unnecessary in NSW and the ACT. An Enduring PoA covers everything.

catdownunder said...

The legislation is different in every state Donna!

Anonymous said...

Cat is right - and the Enduring PoA does not cover everything in NSW and the ACT either (although it is much wider). Chris

Donna Hosie said...

Yes it does, Chris. I used to draft them!