Enduring powers of attorney and enduring guardianship

As a carer you may have to make legal, financial, medical or lifestyle decisions on behalf of the person you care for. Forward planning can make difficult choices easier for you, the person you care for and the rest of your family.

It helps if everybody in your family knows who has been nominated to make important decisions when somebody is no longer able to decide for themselves. It is also useful to know what they might have wanted in a range of common situations.

Enduring Power of Attorney

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document where you ('the donor'), appoint a person of your choice ('the donee') to manage your assets and financial affairs if you are unable to do so due to illness, an accident, or your absence.  An Enduring Power of Attorney can also be activated if you feel you simply cannot cope with the complexity of managing your financial affairs.

When do enduring powers come into effect?

The appointment may come into operation immediately or may be deferred for a future need or event.  It can be for a fixed period or to perform a specific task and may be revoked by you at any time, providing you have mental capacity to do so, (being of sound mind).  A person you appoint to manage your financial and legal affairs for whatever reason is called your 'attorney'.  In this context, the 'attorney' does not need to be a lawyer / solicitor. 

Who can appoint enduring powers?

You must sign the Enduring Power of Attorney and have mental capacity to do so and the donee must also accept the appointment as your attorney by signing an acceptance.  Your attorney will then have control over your assets and financial affairs or a specified portion of them.  If you lose the mental capacity to manage your affairs, your attorney will be responsible for managing your assets, collecting your income and paying your bills.

Choosing your agent

Your 'attorney' can be any competent adult who is able and willing to act on your behalf. 

Choose someone that you trust to act in your best interests and carry out your wishes. He or she should also understand your views about the decisions they might be asked to make for you and know you well enough to make the kind of choices you would make for yourself.

Enduring Guardianship

What is an Enduring Guardian?

Your Enduring Guardian is the person you appoint to make lifestyle and medical decisions for you should you become incapable of doing so.  Appointment of an enduring guardian is done via a legal document called an Enduring Power of Guardianship (Public Trustee can prepare this for you).  Once in place, the Enduring Power of Guardianship may be exercised if and when necessary.

It's important not to confuse Enduring Guardian with Enduring Power of Attorney.  Your Guardian makes medical and lifestyle decisions for you, while your Attorney manages your financial and legal affairs.  An Enduring Guardian's powers cannot be delegated to another person.

Guardianship Board

The Guardianship Board may have a role when a person is unable to make certain important decisions for themselves due to having a mental incapacity.

(08) 8368 5600 Mon - Fri 9am to 5pm

1800 800 501 (free call for country callers on a landline, mobile at mobile rates)

The Office of the Public Advocate

The role of the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) is to promote and protect the rights of people with mental incapacity in South Australia.

(08) 8342 8200

1800 066 969 (free call for country callers on a landline, mobile at mobile rates)

Legal Services Commission of South Australia

The Commission provides free legal advice and minor assistance through its telephone advice line and face-to-face appointments.  Specialist advice can also be provided on Centrelink, migration and child support matters.

(08) 8463 3555

The Public Trustee of South Australia

Assisting South Australians to achieve peace of mind and security through the provision of trustee services, always acting in the best interest to manage their investments, legal and financial affairs.

(08) 8226 9200

1800 673 119  (free call for country callers on a landline, mobile at mobile rates)