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How to protect yourself or loved ones against the misuse of an Enduring Power of Attorney

The Coronavirus pandemic has prompted many of us to consider whether we have our legal affairs in order. From 25 January 2020 to 02 April 2020, Australia has recorded just over 5000 cases of Covid-19. With the exponential rise of reported cases over the past couple of months and the lingering uncertainty for the months to come, it is becoming increasingly important for Australians to revisit their Will and Enduring Power of Attorney.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person to act on your behalf in the event that you lose capacity. An Enduring Power of Attorney may grant another person the legal capacity to manage your personal affairs, financial affairs or both.

It is important to execute an Enduring Power of Attorney as soon as possible. In the event that you lose capacity, you will no longer be able to delegate these legal powers.

Why should you revisit your Enduring Power of Attorney?

Nominating an Attorney for financial matters is a financial decision and it should not be governed by loyalty or love – save that for your Will.

When you nominate an Attorney, you give them the power to do anything that you can legally do for yourself. Your Attorney has the power to, amongst other things, access funds that you hold in your bank account, sell your home, or transfer your company shares into their own name. Whilst most Attorneys will do the right thing, there have been many cases where this power has been misused. 

What should you do to protect yourself?

Prevention is always better than cure. Please review your Enduring Power of Attorney now and think very carefully about who you’ve nominated.

If you think the person that you’ve nominated or their partner lives beyond their means, entertains themselves by gambling, is prone to substance abuse, has a substantial amount of debt or doesn’t seem able to manage their own funds then please revoke their power and nominate somebody else. In doing so, you may find that you’ve not only done yourself a favour but have also done your Attorney a favour by protecting them from any repercussions that could follow if the power is misused.

If you decide that you would like to amend your Enduring Power of Attorney, you can speak to one of our solicitors today on 3390 2344.

If you or your family members suspect that the Attorney is misusing their power, what should you do?

If you or a loved one suspect that an Attorney is misusing their power, there are steps that you can take to have their power removed. You should contact a solicitor immediately for assistance in applying to have the Enduring Power of Attorney revoked and a new attorned nominated.

If the Attorney has used their powers for personal benefit or gain, you should also consider reporting the Attorney to the police. Financial exploitation is serious and must be prevented when possible.

Contact us today

Matthew Love Family Lawyers can assist you with your legal affairs. If you are considering revoking your Enduring Power of Attorney, making a new Enduring Power of Attorney or filing an application with QCAT, call us on 07 3390 2344 to book your appointment.