In an Australian first, Victoria has introduced the concept of a Supportive Attorney.
A person (called a Principal) can now appoint a Supportive Attorney to support them in making and implementing decisions about their financial, legal and personal matters.
The appointment of a Supportive Attorney is a less restrictive option for a Principal than a traditional Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). Appointing a Supportive Attorney enables a Principal to retain control of the decision making process, whilst receiving appropriate support.
What can a Supportive Attorney do?
A Principal can authorise a Supportive Attorney to:
- Obtain information to assist the Principal to make a decision (eg from banks, financial advisers, insurers, utility companies, service providers and hospitals)
- Communicate information about or on behalf of a Principal
- Give effect to decisions of the Principal.
A Supportive Attorney cannot make decisions for the Principal (unlike an EPA) or give effect to significant financial transactions (eg real estate dealings or investments over $10,000).
As with EPAs, Supportive Attorneys are overseen by VCAT and are subject to criminal penalties for dishonesty and loss caused to the Principal.
What happens when the Principal can no longer make decisions?
Unlike EPAs, if the Principal loses decision making capacity, the Supportive Attorney appointment comes to an end.
For this reason, it is important that a Principal also has a valid EPA in place to commence in the event of incapacity.
Who will benefit?
The appointment of a Supportive Attorney will be useful for those who need assistance in the decision making process (such as elderly, disabled or vulnerable people), but are still able to decide matters for themselves with appropriate support.
The introduction of the Supportive Attorney role will provide greater certainty to organisations and advisers (such as banks, accountants, financial advisers and lawyers), as to who they can provide information to and communicate with.