Amendments to the Powers of Attorney Act

Amendments to the law on enduring powers of attorney (financial and personal/guardianship) took effect on 01 May 2017 by the enactment of the Powers of Attorney Amendment Act of 2016. Additional amendments were made on Enduring Medical Powers of Attorney through the enactment of the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act of 2016, which took effect last 12 March 2018. The significant changes can be summarised as follows:

Powers of Attorney Amendment Act of 2016

  • A principal can appoint an attorney to have general powers, or limit the authority to only financial, personal and/or specific powers.
  • A principal can appoint more than one alternative attorneys for one or more appointed attorneys, and specify their powers.
  • If a principal appoints multiple attorneys and it becomes impossible for them to act by majority then the remaining attorneys shall act jointly.
  • A principal can revoke the appointment of an alternative attorney for a single or multiple attorneys, or alternative supportive attorney for a single or multiple supportive attorneys.
  • A prior enduring power of attorney under the Instruments Act of 1958, Guardianship and Administration Act of 1986 and Powers of Attorney Act of 2014 will be automatically revoked by the making of a new enduring power of attorney, unless otherwise stated in the new enduring power of attorney.

Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act of 2016

  • Any person can authorise one or more medical treatment decision-makers to make medical treatment decisions, including medical research.
  • Introduction of a new legal document called advance care directives, which may include instructional directives and values directives.
  • Either of the two witnesses to an enduring medical power of attorney must be a registered medical practitioner or a person authorised to take affidavits.
  • The medical agent must confirm his or her acceptance to the appointment in the same instrument where the appointment was made.
  • Creation of a support attorney role, whose power is limited only to communicating and representing a person’s medical treatment decisions.
  • Making it unlawful for a person to impersonate an appointed medical agent or induce their appointment as a medical agent.
  • Existing enduring medical powers of attorney that were made prior to the amendment will remain valid as updating to the new amendment is optional.

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