Enduring Powers of Attorney
About six years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a lovely lady, Simone (alias, of course) and her partner, Sam (another lovely lady). Simone was very keen to put a Binding Financial Agreement in place as the couple had just started living together and Simone wanted to sort out in advance what would happen to their finances if things didn’t work out between them.
Well six years later, the good news is that Simone and Sam are still going strong. Simone and Sam didn’t end up signing the Binding Financial Agreement, a decision Simone made, but as Simone said, our discussions regarding the relationship, initial financial contributions, contributions likely to be made by each of them during the relationship, and the best way to resolve their financial affairs if they separated (just to highlight some of the things we discussed) really provided Simone and Sam with far greater insight into how to resolve their financial affairs if they ever did separate.
While we were discussing these various aspects of the Binding Financial Agreement, I recall saying to Simone that it was important that Simone and Sam update their Wills, as neither of them had an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place, both should prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney naming the other as their Attorney in case one fell ill and the other had to make personal/health or financial decisions on their behalf.
Simone and Sam ended up signing new Wills and Enduring Power of Attorney in favour of each other.
A few years later, Simone had a very serious accident. It resulted in Simone being hospitalised for some months and for some time after the accident, Simone was unconscious. The medical team at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, where Simone was transported informed Sam that she would need immediate medical attention and a series of operations in the future to combat the physical damage Simone had suffered.
As you can imagine, everyone was shattered at the thought of Simone having to go through such an ordeal, including Simone’s mum, who voiced her opposition to the medical team’s proposal. It was a confusing time, all round, not only for the medical team as to who they should listen to, but for Simone’s mum, as well.
In the end, Sam was able to say that Simone had appointed her as her Attorney to make these types of decisions for her in the event Simone couldn’t. Sam had become convinced that the medical team were correct in the assessment of her medical needs, and Sam was able to produce a copy of the EPA to the medical team. It clearly stated that Simone had appointed Sam to make such decisions for her, if she couldn’t make them for herself at the time. Sam’s intervention on Simone’s behalf saved her life.
The moral of the story is, even if you are not quite ready to face your own mortality, get your EPA organised. This allows a loved one or very close friend (someone you absolutely trust) to make these types of decisions for you if you can’t. Also, don’t forget to have a conversation with your Attorney and tell them what your wishes are in the event you become incapacitated.
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