A Loving Daughter-In-Law Advises Setting Up Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship

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I recently read a very heart-warming story about a woman who took on the role of primary carer of her father in law in the last year of his life as his dementia developed and he became unable to look after himself. He did eventually have to go into aged care accommodation, but she was a wonderful support to him prior to that time, living in the spare room of his unit and cooking and caring for him in a very loving way.  Fortunately, he liked her and appreciated her care, so she was not challenged by aggressive or unpleasant behaviour, as can be the case with dementia sufferers.  Not everyone is in the happy situation of being able to completely give over their time and life to a loved, aged family member and so need to find suitable aged care accommodation for them at an earlier stage.

At the end of her story she made a very good point that we should all have, regardless of age, an enduring power of attorney and guardian appointed. The role of a guardian is to make lifestyle decisions, such as where you should live, as well as give their consent to medical, dental and health care services generally and the role of a power of attorney is to handle your legal and financial matters and make relevant decisions regarding these. Under the new Victorian legislation these roles have been combined, however previous appointments made under the old legislation before September 2015 still stand. You will find more information about the new legislation here.  This role can be taken on by a trusted family member or an organisation.

Rules regarding these roles differ from state to state. A good starting point is to have a visit with your Solicitor, who can advise you and help set this up.  You may rest assured that these roles only come into play if you feel you can’t manage your affairs yourself or you are not fit to do so, for example, if you are suffering from dementia, illness, acquired brain injury  or mental illness.

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