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Stuart Barnett is our mining industry’s leading personal injury lawyer. This month he has some important advice in relation to a Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship.

Many of you will know someone who, through injury, age or disease is unable to manage their financial affairs or health needs. Or as you approach retirement your financial advisor may ask you the question; “have you a Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship in place?” You probably said to yourself, “what are they and do I need them?”

A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person or persons to manage your financial affairs on your behalf. A Enduring Guardianship allows you to appoint a person or persons to manage your lifestyle medical and general health when you are unable to do so yourself. Whether you need one is a personal decision but remember this, once you lose your mental capacity it’s too late.

You may execute a Power of Attorney for practical or business reasons, like appointing a person (known as your attorney) for a specific task or period. For example, you are going on an overseas holiday and you need documents to be signed while you are away. Alternatively, you may execute an Enduring Power of Attorney to allow your attorney to manage your financial affairs even after you lose your mental capacity.

An Enduring Guardianship will allow your attorney to make health, medical and lifestyle decisions for you if you lose the mental capacity to do so yourself. This might include decisions about what medical treatment you will receive, whether you will placed in a nursing home or even whether attempts are to be made to revive you in the event that are unable to sustain your own life without artificial assistance.

If you have strong views about this last aspect, that is, what emergency treatment you are to receive or not to receive, then you can make an Advanced Care Directive as part of your Enduring Guardianship or as a separate document.

Your Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship are very important documents and you should only appoint someone that you trust. If circumstances change you must take steps to execute updated documents and destroy the old ones.

Just like you review other aspects of your affairs, the adequacy and relevance of these documents should be reviewed periodically. A lawyer can prepare and witness both types of documents for you at a relatively inexpensive cost.

This is general advice and because your individual circumstances will vary I recommend seeking out specific advice for your needs.

Stuart Barnett

Slater & Gordon Lawyers

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