Appoint an Enduring Guardian the right way with Owen Hodge Lawyers
Enduring guardianship is a part of long-term future planning, which gives a person the option of choosing someone to make decisions on his/her behalf. This is specifically done to avoid a situation where such a person has become too old or mentally incapacitated to make decisions for their own benefit.
The Guardianship Act allows people who are capable of making decisions for themselves to appoint an enduring guardian to make health, personal, and lifestyle decisions. However, in case that person has recorded any specific guidance or Advance Care Directives (ACDs), then the Enduring Guardian is under a duty to duly regard that.
The appointment of the enduring guardian can only be made where you have the capacity to make such a decision. That means you must understand the nature of the document when it is explained to you. The appointment only becomes operative if you lose the capacity by disability to make such a decision.
You can appoint an enduring guardian to make decisions on your behalf about your personal and lifestyle affairs. This can be done during the estate planning process or on its own.
Read on to learn more about enduring power of guardianship, or speak to one of our Wills and estate lawyers.
Enduring Guardianship vs Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to choose a person you trust to make legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. An example of this might be if you are traveling out of the country and need someone to make decisions for you while you are away. These decisions can include:
- Signing legal documents
- Banking decisions
- Paying bills
- Taking in rental and or lease payments from tenants
- Managing your investments
Similar to a power of attorney, an enduring guardianship is someone you can select to make decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. These decisions include the following:
- Your place of residence
- The types of services you might need for your health and well-being
- Medical and Dental care and treatment
- Provide consultation and guidance on your end-of-life care plans
However, an enduring guardianship holder cannot make the following decisions:
- Those pertaining to your finances
- Your right to vote or to vote on your behalf
- Arranging a marriage on your behalf
- Partake in any form of illegal activity
- Make decisions regarding special treatments including having children or sterilization
- Making changes to your health care directive
- Altering your Will
What does an enduring guardian do?
You are able to nominate what your enduring guardian may make decisions about in the document. These decisions are called “functions”. The number or types of functions are nominated by you. If you wish to appoint more than 1 guardian and give different functions to each guardian, you may do so.
Generally, your guardian makes decisions about your accommodation, medical care, and services in the event you are no longer capable of doing so.
Can an enduring guardian make financial decisions?
No, you need a power of attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf. However, the power of attorney can be the same person as your enduring guardian.
Who should you appoint an enduring guardian?
Your enduring guardian:
- Needs to be at least 18 years old and a person you trust to make decisions about your health, lifestyle, and welfare.
- Needs to sign the form confirming that they consent to the appointment.
- Cannot be a person who provides you with services, i.e. your GP
What happens if I don’t have an enduring guardian?
The Guardianship Tribunal is a legal tribunal that makes, amongst other things, appointments of people to look after the interests of those with disabilities aged 16 years and over, and those incapable of making their own decisions. If the Tribunal finds no one is appropriate to be appointed, it may appoint the Public Guardian who will then manage your affairs. If you lose the capacity to make your own decisions and do not have an Enduring Guardian, somebody will need to apply to the Guardianship Tribunal to be appointed your manager.
What is the difference between guardianship and enduring guardianship?
A guardian is a person who has the authority to make decisions relating to a minor’s personal and lifestyle issues in case they are incapacitated or suffer from any other kind of disability. Generally, a minor, upon gaining the age of majority, can make his/her own decisions and there is no further need for a legal guardian (Australia).
In Australia, an enduring guardian is a person who makes important decisions on behalf of someone over the age of 16 who suffers from a disability or incapacity. An enduring guardian can make decisions relating to the other person’s lifestyle and medical treatment.
How to appoint an enduring guardian
There are certain procedural requirements that need to be met in each State and Territory. However, for an enduring guardianship to be valid, it needs the following:
- The appointment must be made in writing and both parties must sign the form in front of a designated legal authority.
- Witnesses to be present.
Can you revoke an enduring guardianship appointment?
A person appointed as an enduring guardian may also decide to resign from his/her post and may do so by submitting a written Letter of Resignation to the person who has appointed him/her, in case he/she is still capable of making decisions on his/her own. In case the other person is mentally incapacitated, the approval of the Guardianship Tribunal is needed for resigning.
Owen Hodge’s Enduring Guardianship Services
At Owen Hodge, we provide all services related to Wills, Trust, Power of Attorney, and Enduring Guardianship. The solicitors at Owen Hodge Lawyers have expertise in the areas of Last Will and Testament, Contesting a Will, Deceased Estate, and Elder Law. Within each of these areas, our lawyers can provide clients with additional guidance for electing a Power of Attorney or an Enduring Guardianship, as needed and appropriate.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you appointed an enduring guardian and they are no longer able to act on your behalf, you should select a new person to take over on your behalf. However, if you do not have the capacity to take this action, someone else who is concerned with your welfare can make an application. You can appoint another person as a substitute Enduring Guardian who only makes decisions for you if your original guardian is no longer able to NCAT to decide who your guardian should be.
The fees associated with appointing an enduring guardianship will vary depending upon if you are creating just a single document or if you are creating other estate documents too.
It is possible that an enduring guardianship can take too much power away from the person they are making decisions. As such it is important to clearly delineate what types of decisions an enduring guardian is allowed to make on behalf of the protected individual.
They cannot make decisions regarding your finances, your right to vote or to vote on your behalf, arrange a marriage on your behalf, partake in any form of illegal activity, make decisions regarding special treatments including having children or sterilization, make changes to your health care directive or alter your Will.
If you need to appoint an Enduring Guardian or still have questions, please contact the specialist wills and estate planning team at Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780, or ask our team directly.