Decision making and powers of attorney
Supported decision making, enduring powers of attorney (EPAs), and court decisions under the PPPR Act
What this chapter covers
Many people assume that if they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves – because of a serious accident or illness, for example, or simply through getting older – their partner or a close relative will legally be able to make decisions for them. In fact, the law doesn’t work like that.
The law allows for you to plan ahead by making what’s called an enduring power of attorney – or “EPA” – where you give someone you trust the power to make decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself. But if you haven’t made an enduring power of attorney and you lose the ability to make decisions or to communicate them to others, then usually someone will have to apply to the Family Court for a judge to make orders to deal with your personal affairs and your money and property. That could involve appointing someone to make decisions for you (“welfare guardians” and “property managers”).
Note: The law stresses the importance of people making their own decisions wherever possible, and provides ways to help them do this.
This chapter is divided into two main parts, which explain about:
- Enduring powers of attorney – This part is about how to appoint someone to make decisions for you under an enduring power of attorney (EPA), and the kinds of powers and responsibilities that person – called your “attorney” – will have (see “Enduring powers of attorney” in this chapter)
- Family Court orders for your welfare and property – This is about the different kinds of orders the Family Court can make to manage your personal affairs or property, including, in some cases, appointing one or more people to do this for you – a “welfare guardian” or a “property manager” or both (see “Family Court orders for your welfare or property” in this chapter)
Note: For information about the rights of disabled people, including to do with decision making, see the chapter “Disability rights” in this manual.