What are the different types of Powers of Attorney? Do I need them all?

A Power of Attorney is an important tool for enabling others to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable.

What are the different types of Powers of Attorney? Do I need them all?

There are several types of Powers of Attorney available, which operate via several different documents. Each document is designed to deal with different situations and events.

To help plan for your future as effectively as possible, we generally recommend the following documents:

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney covers two main areas: financial matters and personal matters.

Financial powers consist of such responsibilities as paying bills or other expenses, recovering money owed to you, signing legal and other documents, buying or selling property, and simply making money available for you when the need arises.

Powers in relation to financial matters can take effect straight away upon the making of your Enduring Power of Attorney, or you can elect that the powers only come into effect once you no longer have the ability to make decisions for yourself.

Powers relating to personal matters allow your attorney to make decisions in relation to your lifestyle, such as where you live and day-to-day living issues, like dress and diet. Unlike financial powers, we recommend powers of a personal nature should only come into effect if you are unable, by reason of permanent or long-term disability, to make reasonable judgements about your personal circumstances.

You may appoint more than one person to be your attorney for financial and personal matters. They can be appointed one at a time or jointly.

Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker

Powers relating to medical matters under this Appointment include, but are not limited to, the power to give or withhold consent for treatments or surgeries, as well as decisions in relation to pharmaceuticals, dental treatment and palliative care.

Your Decision Maker(s) will be responsible for making the decision that he or she reasonably believes is the decision that you would have made if you had decision-making capacity. That is, the consideration is not 'best interest' but rather is a substituted judgement.

You may appoint more than one person as your Medical Treatment Decision Maker. However, unlike financial and personal matters, your appointed Decision Maker(s) must be appointed on a priority basis, one after the other. They cannot be appointed jointly. If a decision needs to be made in relation to your medical treatment, the decision will fall to the first person listed in your appointment who is reasonably available and willing and able to act at the particular time.

Advance Care Directive

An Advance Care Directive is a useful document, which operates in conjunction with your Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker. It allows you to set out your binding instructions, or at least your preferences and values, in relation to your medical treatment should you become incapable or otherwise become unable to make your own decisions.

Advance Care Directives may contain either an instructional directive, a values directive, or both. An instructional directive is an express statement which takes effect as if you have consented to, or refused consent to, a particular medical treatment yourself. A values directive is a statement of your preferences and values as a basis on which you would like any medical treatment decision to be made on your behalf.

In circumstances where there is no instructional directive in relation to a particular medical treatment, the decision will be referred to your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.

How can Sharrock Pitman Legal help?

If you require assistance or advice regarding Powers of Attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please call our Wills and Estates team on 1300 205 506 if you have any queries, or alternatively fill in the contact form below.

The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

For further information contact  
Sarah Slattery

Sarah is an Associate Lawyer at Sharrock Pitman Legal. As a member of our Wills and Estates team, Sarah is dedicated to successfully resolving her clients matters in a cost-effective and timely manner. For further information, please contact Sarah directly on (03) 8651 3322.


For fifty years Sharrock Pitman Legal has made a significant and long term contribution to meeting the legal needs of business owners and residents in the City of Monash and greater Melbourne area.

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