An Enduring Power of Attorney and Health Directives are documents used to enforce your wishes after you lose your capacity to make decisions for yourself. Although there is a considerable overlap they are two distinctive documents.
The Enduring Power of Attorney
The principle (the person giving the power) authorizes the attorney (the person given the power) to make decisions about the principle’s financial affairs, personal health matters or both when the principle is unable to make the decisions themselves. This means the attorney can pay bills for the principle draw money from the bank or reinvest money or even sell the principles house without their consent.
The health decisions would include where the principle resides and consent to certain medical procedures again without the consent of the principle. In selecting an attorney the principle must be extremely cautious in who they choose.
One may think that it would be common sense to pick a son or daughter to be your attorney after all they would never do them any harm, but elder abuse is a real concern when the attorney can sell the family home and put the principle in a cheap nursing home only to protect their own inheritance.
Simple measures can be made to safeguard against elder abuse such as limiting the powers your attorney processes and having the document only come into effect when you’re Doctor deems it necessary.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is not only for the elderly anyone can lose the capacity to make meaningful decisions at any age through sickness or accident.
The Enduring Power of Attorney can also be used when it’s not convenient for you to make your own financial decisions yourself. For incidence if you are going overseas for an extended holiday you could appoint an attorney to pay your bills or run your business and cancel that appointment when you return.
The attorney has a duty to only use the power in the principal’s best interest and can face civil or in some cases criminal charges, for misusing the power but in saying that once damage is done it is sometimes permanent.
The Enduring Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time so long as the principle still has mental capacity.
Advance Health Directives
This document authorizes or prohibits your doctor from preforming certain medical procedures if you are unable to speak for yourself. For example if you were seriously injured in a car accident and in a unrecoverable vegetable state. Then would you want to be kept alive on a ventilator or prevented from passing away through resuscitation.
Remember this would be a grave responsibility on your loved ones having to make the decision that will allow you to die peacefully. Other people have strict religious beliefs about what treatment they can have performed on them, like not accepting any blood products. The Advanced health directive will override any moral or ethical concerns of your family and doctors.
Who Can Make a Enduring power of Attorney or Advanced Health Directive
Any person of sound mind over the age of 18 years