Often, the hardest aspect of the enduring power of attorney (EPOA) role is balancing the needs of the person you’re making the decision for with your own concerns and wishes for them. While most people tackle the role diligently, in some cases EPOAs have misused their power to inflict elder abuse.
The ‘Duties and Responsibilities Under an EPOA in Queensland’ sets out the rights of the person with impaired capacity and states that they have the same human rights as other adults:
“The right to make decisions is fundamental to the person’s dignity and includes the right to make decisions with which others may not agree.
These rights are protected by the General Principles and the Health Care Principle, which every attorney must apply when acting or making a decision for the person.”
In Queensland, the General Principles provide a set of rules to guide attorneys in fulfilling their duties and obligations.
The General Principles include:
Using these principles as a guide can help you as an EPOA to think about the needs, wishes and beliefs of your loved one and weigh up any difficult decisions you may be facing.
The Health Care Principle states that health care decisions must:
This principle can help you weigh up aged care options in line with the person’s best interests, views and wishes. For instance, do they wish to continue living as a couple in aged care, do they want to bring their pet, do they want to keep their independence?
Our questions to ask your aged care provider resource can help you narrow down the search.
EPOAs have a duty to act carefully and in the person’s best interest when managing money and property. EPOAs should:
There is no doubt that acting as an EPOA, particularly when you share this role with other family members, can be fraught with potential for disagreements.
An EPOA has a duty to work together with other attorneys and should not allow any breakdown in communication to negatively impact the person you are acting for.
If you are having trouble agreeing with each other, it’s important to keep the person you are acting for, and their rights, beliefs and wishes, at the heart of your decision-making.
Encouraging a loved one to carry out advance care planning can help when the time comes to act as an EPOA. By knowing and understanding their wishes in regards to health care, accommodation and finances you are better equipped to ensure that their needs are met and you are making decisions in their best interests.