Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directives

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What is the difference between a Power of Attorney, Advance Care Directive and a Will?

A Power of Attorney (‘POA’), Advance Care Directive (‘ACD’) and a Will are three separate documents that have very different functions.

Power of Attorney

A POA document gives the person or people you appoint the power to manage your money, your assets, your finances and your legal affairs. For example, the Attorney can deal with Centrelink, lodge your tax returns, operate your bank accounts, pay your bills, sell your house, invest your money and use your money for your benefit.

There are different types of POA documents that you can make to suit your particular circumstances.

The most common are:

1. Enduring POA – this type of POA only comes into effect if you ever become unable to manage your affairs. A condition stipulated in the Enduring POA is that the document only comes into effect when you lose your legal capacity and your Attorney will need to obtain an appropriate Certificate in writing by a legally qualified medical practitioner.

2. General and Enduring POA – this type of POA can commence as soon as you and all the Attorneys have signed the POA and continues if you lose your mental capacity.

Advance Care Directive

An ACD gives the person or people you appoint the power to make decisions in relation to where you live, your welfare and medical treatment. The ACD can state your wishes. You may wish to be kept alive on life support or have nursing home preferences.


When you die the POA and ACD documents no longer apply and the Will you would have signed will come into effect. In your Will, you can appoint your executors and trustees, outline your wishes regarding your body, and outline how you want your estate to be distributed.

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