‘Powers of Attorney’ is important for everyone

31 MAY 2022

‘Powers of Attorney’ is important for everyone

The choice to appoint the right person to have ‘powers of attorney’ as we age, or if we lose mental capacity, is the focus of an information session in Molong next week.

  • The ‘Uses and abuses of Powers of Attorney’ information session in Molong from 10am to 12pm on Wednesday 8 June will explore and explain the concepts and issues about ‘powers of attorney’

The choice to appoint the right person to have ‘powers of attorney’ as we age, or if we lose mental capacity, is the focus of an information session in Molong next week.

The ‘Uses and abuses of Powers of Attorney’ information session is at Molong Library from 10am to 12pm on Wednesday 8 June.

A Charles Sturt University legal expert will co-present the session with representatives of Centrelink Services.

Adjunct Associate Professor Susan Field (pictured, inset) in the Charles Sturt Centre for Law and Justice said the session will provide important information and perspectives for older people and their adult children.

“The ageing ‘baby boomer’ population and the fact people are generally living longer makes the need for people to appoint a ‘power of attorney’ increasingly important,” Professor Field said.

“It’s important because while there are no laws stating we must appoint someone as our attorney, either through a general power of attorney (which ceases to have effect if we lose mental capacity) or an enduring power of attorney (which stays in effect after loss of capacity), there are laws that state what will happen if we were to lose capacity and not have appointed a person (the attorney) to make financial and legal decisions for us.”

Professor Field said in effect, if someone loses mental capacity and hasn’t appointed a ‘power of attorney’, someone has to make an application to the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to be appointed as a Financial Manager, and that person may not be the person we would have chosen.

“Therefore, the choice is ours ─ to act or not to act before it is necessary,” she said.

“Perhaps the key issue is don’t ask ‘Who do we want to appoint as an attorney?’, ask ‘What qualities do I want in an attorney?’.”

Professor Field said the answer to those two questions can be quite different.

“Remember, appointing the right person, with the right qualities, can give peace of mind,” she said.

“Appointing the wrong person ─ without the qualities we want ─ can lead to abuse of the power of attorney.

“The qualities we should look for are integrity, financial acumen, availability, the ability to act as an advocate, and the time to actually do the job.”

The ‘Uses and abuses of Powers of Attorney information session will also cover the role of Centrelink Services Australia specialists.

Bookings are essential via Eventbrite.com.au or phone 6366 8404.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Adjunct Associate Professor Susan Field contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or news@csu.edu.au

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