An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person or people (the attorney/s) to make decisions for another person (the principle). A principle can appoint a medical enduring power of attorney or ‘medical agent’, to make decisions for them in relation to medical and dental treatment. The decisions of the agent regarding treatment will take precedence over an attorney appointed for personal or financial matters.
Who to Appoint
A medical agent must be 18 years of age or over and must be of sound mind. This means that they must understand the consequences of becoming an attorney. It should be a person who the principle knows and trusts to protect their interests.
The principle may also appoint a second person, known as an ‘alternate agent’. This person will make decisions about treatment if the medical agent cannot be located, is deceased or does not have decision making capacity.
A medical agent will have the power to consent or refuse medical treatment. However, they cannot make decisions in relation to personal matters such as living arrangements or rehabilitation services. This would require the principle to make an enduring power of attorney.
Commencing and Ending an Enduring Medical Power of Attorney
The appointment will only commence when the person is no longer capable of making decisions about their treatment. This may be permanent or temporary.
The principle can revoke their power at any time, provided they have decision making capacity. If the principle appoints a new medical agent or the current agent is unable to make decisions, the appointment will end. The appointment will also come to an end if the principle or medical agent dies.