Powers of attorney

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Powers of attorney

Powers of attorney are legal documents that allow you to choose who will make decisions about financial and personal matters if you are not able to make these decisions yourself.

At some time in your life you may be faced with an event – such as an accident or illness – that might take away your capacity to make your own decisions about things like:

  • where you live
  • how you spend your money
  • what support services you may need.

If you don’t have a power of attorney:

  • you may not be able to choose who should make decisions on your behalf
  • it could lead to conflict over who should take charge of the decision-making process if you are unable to do this yourself
  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may be asked to appoint an administrator or guardian to help you.

Choosing an attorney

With a power of attorney, the person giving the power is called the ‘principal’ and the person who is granted the power to act is called the ‘attorney’. You can choose more than one person to be your attorney. You should choose a person that you trust and who you think will make the right decisions for you.

You can also choose someone to make decisions for you about your medical treatment if you are ever unable to make these types of decisions because of an injury or illness. The person with powers to make medical treatment decisions for you is called a ‘medical treatment decision maker’.

Making a power of attorney

A power of attorney gives you choice and control over who makes decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so. This could be because you lose the legal capacity to make decisions, or because you are travelling overseas and need someone to make decisions for you while you are away.

There are three types of powers:

  • general non-enduring powers of attorney
  • supportive powers of attorney (for help with decisions)
  • general enduring powers of attorney (for financial, legal and personal decisions).

Each power is different and suited to different situations.

The non-enduring power and the supportive powers of attorney documents continue until you either revoke (cancel) the power or you lose legal capacity to make particular decisions.

An ‘enduring’ power of attorney means that your power of attorney continues when you are unable to make decisions on your own.

The Office of the Public Advocate has information and resources including downloadable forms to help you make a power of attorney. Go to their page Making an enduring power of attorney.

On their website, you can also find Take Control [PDF 362KB], a guide to:

  • appointing a medical treatment decision maker
  • making an advance care directive
  • making an enduring power of attorney.

Get help

Office of the Public Advocate

The Office of the Public Advocate Advice Service provides information, advice and assistance about enduring powers of attorney. The service is available during business hours and also accepts emergency enquiries at any time.

Legal services

Call us for free information about the law and how we can help you.

If we can’t help, we can refer you to other organisations that can.

Your local community legal centre can give you legal information and advice. Most services are free.

Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.

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