What is Power of Attorney?


Seminar in Sydney on 23 November

What is Power of Attorney? Why is it important? Who do you appoint? What can go right and wrong? These questions are part of a seminar series being conducted across urban and regional NSW that is jointly hosted by the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre (CDPC) and the Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA NSW).

A chief investigator at CDPC, Adjunct Associate Professor Sue Field, explains what a Power of Attorney is and isn’t.

“A Power of Attorney is an important legal document where you appoint an Attorney, a person, to act on your behalf to manage financial and certain legal affairs.

“It can seem complicated and is often confused with other legal and planning documents. It is not a Will, Enduring Guardianship or an Advance Care Directive or a Living Will,” she said.

Associate Professor Field, who is from Western Sydney University, emphasises the importance of wider knowledge and uptake of creating a Power of Attorney.

“People should talk about this topic at family dinners, in a way that any other family matters would be raised. Power of Attorney should also be a rite of passage for young people when they turn 18 and should be as routine and accepted as getting a tax file number and enrolling to vote is.

“Many people leave it too late. As we age our chances of cognitive decline also increases. We can choose when the power of attorney is to come into effect, how and what the Attorney can act and we can revoke the Power of Attorney at any stage, as long as we have the mental capacity.

“Your choice of Attorney is critical. The best person is not necessarily your partner, a child or the executor of your will. You need to appoint someone you can not only trust to act in your best interests but who is available, has advocacy skills and financial acumen,” she says.

Adjunct Associate Professor Field explains the two types of Power of Attorney, the General Power of Attorney that ceases to have effect if you lose mental capacity and the Enduring Power of Attorney that continues to have effect if you lose mental capacity.

The series of 10 seminars will all be presented by Associate Professor Field, followed by a COTA NSW presentation linking participants with further resources and how participants ca take action.

“As the peak organisation for people over 50 in NSW we field many enquiries about Power of Attorney, so were very pleased to partner with the CDPC to deliver these informational seminars,” she said.

Sarah Davidson COTA NSW Education and Business Development Manager said COTA NSW also provides resources to assist people understand and implement options for their future planning.

“People can read a fact sheet and get some background information but the seminar series brings the information to life, with real-life examples and informed advice,” Sarah said.