OLDER PEOPLE suffering from mental incapacity will see their best interests given further protection following the commencement of the Powers of Attorney Act 2003 last week, according to the Law Society of NSW. In order to assist solicitors in interpreting the new Act, the Society has issued guidelines to ensure a standard of “best practice”.
Guidelines on the Preparation of an Enduring Power of Attorney has been developed to help solicitors assist their clients to plan their future and execute enduring powers of attorney, “to be used when a person has lost capacity”, said Gordon Salier president of the Law Society of NSW.
The tightening up of enduring powers of attorney was a response to situations such as a child moving an elderly parent with dementia out of a family home, selling it, and moving away on the proceeds, without visiting or taking care of the parent, said Salier. “It’s sad that some family members abuse each others trust,” he added.
The liaison between the solicitor and the client’s doctor is emphasised in the guidelines in an attempt to establish the client’s competence and when the attorney needs to take over the clients’ affairs.
Salier stressed that what is absolutely clear is that the attorney must act in the best interests of the donor and according to the donor’s intentions as specified before they lost capacity. “The enduring power of attorney should safeguard the interest of a person,” he said.