Trusts, Wills & Estates

Changes to Powers of Attorney as at 1 September

On 1 September 2015, the Powers of Attorney Act 2014 came into effect. The new laws combine the old “Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial)” and “Enduring Power of Guardianship” into a single document known as an “Enduring Power of Attorney”. The new laws do not affect the Medical Enduring Power of Attorney, which continues to be regulated by the Medical Treatment Act 1988.

About the new laws

  • The process of appointing an attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act 2014 has been simplified so that you can now rely on a single document to appoint another person to manage both your financial and personal affairs;
  • The laws introduce a new type of power of attorney, known as “the supportive attorney”. This represents a significant change from the old laws, which failed to recognise or provide a practical solution for people who have the capacity to make their own decisions but need additional support in making and implementing those decisions. By introducing the role of a supportive attorney, the new laws aim to promote the rights, autonomy and dignity of people who have decision-making capacity but need support to exercise that capacity, such as people with disabilities.
  • The new laws also provide:
    • better guidance for assessing a person’s capacity to make decisions; and
    • improved safeguards against abuse by persons appointed under an enduring power of attorney by creating new offences for dishonestly, punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

What the changes means to you

  • Enduring powers of attorney and guardianship made before 1 September 2015 are valid and continue to be recognised under the new Act. However, these documents do not include any provision for the appointment of a supportive attorney. If you would like to benefit from the enhanced protections of the Powers of Attorney Act 2014, please contact us so that we can assist you with drafting a new enduring power of attorney.
  • As of 1 September 2015, enduring powers of attorney must be made in accordance with the new laws. It is important to plan for your future care and appoint someone (such as a trusted family member of friend) to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you later lose the capacity to do so for yourself. If you have not yet made an enduring power of attorney, please contact us so that you can start planning for your future today.