Most people understand the importance of a Will i.e. it is a document by which a person disposes of their assets after their death. But the crucial thing to remember is that a Will only operates from the date of one’s death.

What will happen to your assets in a situation where you are still alive but due to an accident or some other reason you are not of sufficient mental capacity to manage your own affairs? And in such a case who will make necessary decisions about your medical treatment or where you are to live?

That is why it is well worth considering two other valuable documents that more and more people these days are entering into at the same time as their Will being an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Appointment of Enduring Guardian. Put simply, the presence of all three documents means that all your affairs will be taken care of both before and after your death.

Let us take a closer look at the other two documents:

Enduring Power of Attorney

Some of the features of this document are:

(a) It appoints someone (an attorney) to have authority to make decisions about your property and financial affairs;

(b) It does not authorise anyone to make decisions concerning your lifestyle, health or personal affairs;

(c) It will still be valid even if you lose mental capacity provided a prescribed person, such as a lawyer, explains the document to you and signs a certificate to that effect;

(d) It will operate until you cancel it, the attorney no longer wishes to act or you die;

(e) Before an attorney can use the document he or she has to accept it meaning they must sign it; and

(f) In order to allow the attorney to deal with land owned by you the Enduring Power of Attorney has to be registered at Land & Property Information which involves a registration fee.

Appointment of Enduring Guardian

Some of the features of this document are:

(a) It appoints someone (an enduring guardian) to make personal, lifestyle or health decisions on your behalf when you are not capable of doing so yourself;

(b) The enduring guardian can make decisions such as where you live, what services are provided to you and what medical treatment you receive;

(c) It only comes into effect when you lose mental capacity and is effective only during the period of such incapacity. Therefore, although it may never become operational it makes sense to plan for unforeseen events;

(d) It must be witnessed by a prescribed person such as a lawyer who must explain the document to you and sign a certificate to that effect;

(e) The enduring guardian must accept the document by signing it before a prescribed person such as a lawyer who must explain the document to the enduring guardian and sign a certificate to that effect; and

(f) The appointment of the enduring guardian ends when you die or you revoke the appointment while you have mental capacity or the enduring guardian resigns while you have mental capacity.

May 2017