What is an Enduring Power of Guardianship?
An Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG) is a legal agreement made by choice which enables a person (appointor) to appoint a trusted person as their guardian (appointee). The EPG gives power to the guardian to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions for you only if you have lost your mental capacity. The appointor can limit the powers of the guardian if necessary.
What decisions can a guardian make?
where you live
with who you live
whether you should work
consent, or refuse consent, on your behalf to any medical, surgical or dental treatment
what education and training you can receive
with who you can associate
advocate for, and decide about, which support services you should have access to.
Who decides for me if I have not made an EPG and I lose mental capacity? If you cannot decide about your lifestyle and healthcare the law allows such decisions to be made by the ‘person responsible’ commonly referred to as your next of kin. A next of kin can make treatment decisions for you if they are
of full legal capacity
at least 18 years of age
willing to make the treatment decision and
a spouse or de facto partner living with you
in a close personal relationship with you whether a relative or not or
the primary provider of care and support (not paid) for you.
Who decides for you if there is more than one person who meets the definition of my next of kin? If there is more than one person who meets the criteria for your next of kin, the person highest in the list of priority will be the person responsible. The priority list is:
Your spouse or de facto partner
The nearest relative who maintains a close personal relationship with you in this order:
Your adult child
3. Your primary provider of care and support (not paid) then
4. Any other person in a close personal relationship with your.
Does my next of kin need any document to decide for me? No, there is no need for anything in writing to allow your next of kin to decide for you if you have lost capacity. If you will rely on your next of kin to decide for you if you lose mental capacity then talk to that person about your lifestyle and medical treatment wishes. Should I appoint an enduring guardian? You will be giving a person you know and trust the authority to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf during a period when you have lost legal capacity. These are some reasons why you should appoint an enduring guardian:
Loss of legal capacity can be sudden and you may not have had an opportunity to share you wishes with you next of kin
Your spouse may not be the best person to make personal, treatment and lifestyle decisions for you
If you have no children and your spouse dies or loses mental capacity it is better to appoint someone you trust then rely on your next of kin
If you do not trust one or more of your children to decide for you. You may want to exclude a child who will choose the cheapest nursing home for you
If you children live in different states or countries – remember they must decide jointly
You can limit the powers of your guardian.