COVID-19 is creating all kinds of angst and uncertainty globally. As of writing this, it’s still early days and many are feeling uneasy about the future. The trick is to concentrate your efforts on things you can control; social distancing, personal hygiene, mental health and… finally finding the time to get to those things you’ve always meant to; your Will and Power of Attorney or other estate plans.
Our ‘Digital Estate Planning’ platform has been boosted even further to make it easier than ever to do this online, in the comfort and security of your own home.
What will a Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive provide for me?
In this article, we go into a little more depth about your Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives; with an emphasis on the importance during COVID-19.
Creating new documents or reviewing existing Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives not only provide security for you; they provide peace of mind for your loved ones. These documents will ensure:
- your financial and personal needs will be covered;
- your medical treatment needs will be looked after;
- your wishes about their final weeks or months of life will be looked after
- your attorneys (the people you choose to carry out your wishes) are able to serve and are the best persons for the job;
- your appointed substitute or alternate attorneys can take over if anything happens to the first appointed attorneys;
- your wishes and directions are correctly identified;
- if any of your family members have special needs or disabilities or suffer from substance abuse, then special steps can be put in place for chosen attorneys to protect these family members.
If clients have companies, trusts and superannuation funds, we make sure that their attorneys are able to deal with these entities through the Powers of Attorney.
Why is all this so important, particularly during COVID-19?
Because if you’re at home in quarantine (or worse, in a hospital ward or in ICU) and you have lost the capacity to look after yourself, then you can at least be safe knowing that your affairs are being taken care of by the person you trust and have appointed.
In Victoria, there are three separate powers to appoint people you trust to make decisions on your behalf. These are:
- Financial by appointing your Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial)
- Personal by appointing your Enduring Power of Attorney (Personal)
- Medical by:
- appointing your Medical Treatment Decision Maker; and/or
- completing an Advanced Care Directive
What does my Enduring Financial Power of Attorney (Financial) do?
Your Enduring Financial Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to attend to any legal matters that relate to your financial and property matters when are unable to do so, such as:
- letting you have money for your personal expenses;
- paying for your expenses (bills, shopping etc);
- paying for the expenses of your family members or dependants if you wish;
- paying your debts;
- receiving and recovering money payable to you;
- carrying on your trade or business including making sure you comply with contracts you have made;
- insuring your property;
- looking after your investments;
- using legal services to get information about your legal rights or make a transaction
What does my Enduring Personal Power of Attorney (Personal) do?
Your Enduring Personal Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to attend to any of your personal matters, such as:
- where and with whom you live;
- who you can associate with;
- whether you are able to work and if so, then who your employer will be and where you will work;
- your daily living issues such as your accommodation, your diet and the clothes you wear;
- Your daily health care matters, such as what medication you require.
Can the ‘personal POA’ and ‘financial POA’ be combined into one?
Since the Powers of Attorney Act 2014 (Vic), the Financial and Personal powers can be appointed in the one document.
What does my Enduring Medical Treatment Decision Maker Power of Attorney do?
Your Enduring Medical Treatment Decision Maker Power of Attorney allows your decision-maker to make the medical treatment decision that he or she reasonably believes you would have made if you had the decision-making capacity to make that decision.
These decisions include (but are not limited to):
- whether to turn off your life support;
- authorising or refusing surgery;
- authorising or refusing treatments such as medication, radiation or chemotherapy.
Your Medical Treatment Decision Maker may be asked to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so based upon your values and instructions.
What is an Advance Care Directive?
An Advanced Care Directive is a document that must be witnessed by your medical practitioner. This document by-passes the decisions of your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.
In the event you do not have capacity to make decisions for yourself, then the Advanced Care Directive provides your future treating medical practitioner with directives on what they must do to care for you.
If things get really bad and it looks like you’re likely to die, then your Advance Care Directive will guide your doctors as to the kind of care you want in your final days.
Your Advanced Care Directive can let your doctors know:
- whether you either consent to or refuse certain kinds of medical treatment;
- whether you wish to be resuscitated;
- who you want to have around you; and
- how you want to be treated.
When does an Advance Care Directive come into play?
An Advanced Care Directive operates when you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself and the directives to your doctor set out in your Advanced Care Directive apply to your current set of circumstances.
For example, if you have completed an Advanced Care Directive and you have appointed a Medical Treatment Decision Maker, and then you subsequently lose decision-making capacity, your Medical Treatment Decision Maker will make decisions about your medical care on your behalf.
Later, if for example, you were to have a heart attack or severe stroke and your Advanced Care Directive directs that you must not be resuscitated, but your Medical Treatment Decision Maker does want you to be resuscitated, then your Advanced Care Directive has the overriding power. It is because it is a directive from you.
Directives in an Advance Care Directive must be clear and concise. There can be no ambiguity or the directive will be invalid. Advanced Care Directives are normally made when you are approaching end of life, such as having a terminal illness diagnosis. However, they can be made at any time.
You can start your estate planning online right now, in the comfort and safety of your own home.