Powers of Attorney Bill 2014 (Vic)

Legislation governing powers of attorney and guardianship is set for a major overhaul, after the second reading of the Powers of Attorney Bill 2014 (Vic) ("the Bill") was moved in the Legislative Assembly on 26 June 2014 The Bill comes after two VLRC inquiries tabled in Parliament 2011 and 2012, recommending the legislation be simplified and streamlined.

Under the Bill:

  • A single “enduring power of attorney” document will be able to cover all legal, financial and personal matters previously covered by enduring powers of attorney (financial) and enduring powers of guardianship. 
  • The recipients of these powers will be called “attorneys”, irrespective of the kinds of powers they received.
  • The new position of “supportive attorney” is created.  This will enable supportive decision making, and facilitate access to information and documents.
  • There will be far greater protections for vulnerable donors.  New provisions will set out overarching duties for attorneys and principles on how the powers should be exercised. 
  • Criminal offences are created for attorneys found guilty of dishonestly obtaining or using the power to obtain financial advantage of cause loss. 
  • New provisions enable VCAT to order auditing of accounts and require defaulting attorneys to pay compensation to defrauded donors.  These provisions will apply to all new and existing enduring powers of attorney.
  • There will be stricter witnessing requirements and a new statutory definition of “decision making capacity”.

The resumption of the second reading in the Assembly is on the notice paper for 5 August 2014.