What’s the Difference: Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship?

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So what’s the difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney (what we call an ‘EPA’) and an Enduring Power of Guardianship (an ‘EPG’)?

You can appoint people to make decisions for you about your property, finances, and health. How you do this depends on what you want to authorise the person or persons to do.

Enduring Power of Attorney

This is a legal agreement that enables a person to appoint a trusted person or people to make financial decisions and/or property decisions on their behalf. You can choose when this starts, either immediately or only after loss of capacity is determined.

You can limit what they are financially able to do for you, for example, they can pay your accounts but not sell your home.

Enduring Power of Guardianship

This is a legal document that authorises a person or people of your choice to make important personal, lifestyle, or treatment decisions on your behalf.

It will only come into effect after you are no longer able to make reasonable judgements about these matters yourself.

The person or people you appoint make lifestyle decisions for you, including where you live, who you associate with, where you go, and choices about health access and medication consultation.

The law says you must understand what you are doing when you create an Enduring Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Guardianship (you must have capacity), and that you do so of your own free will.

Unfortunately, sometimes a family member or friend will use a Power of Attorney to benefit themselves rather than the older person, for instance by accessing their bank account. It’s for this reason you should consider appointing not one, but two, trusted family members or friends.

When thinking of who to choose for your Enduring Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Guardianship ask yourself:

  •  Do you trust them?
  • Are you confident this person will always act in your best interests and take your wishes into account?
  • Are they free of any problems or issues with alcohol, drugs or gambling?

Do talk to a lawyer

We strongly recommend you speak to a lawyer and have them draw up your agreement.

They will make sure you are making it of your own free will, are appointing a person or people of your choosing, and that it will be of benefit to you.

If you believe you are being pressured into appointing someone to make decisions for you, or if you have an agreement that you think is being abused, please seek help.

(Information taken from our popular publication, Your Money, Your Life, Your Choice: Caring for your assets as you age.)

Other helpful contacts:

Advocare – 08 9479 7566, 1800 655 566 (Country Callers)

Office of the Public Advocate – 1300 858 455, 08 9278 7300

Older People’s Rights Service – 08 9440 1663