As we celebrate my one-year birthday, let’s delve into a crucial topic for everyone, especially as we age: planning for cognitive decline. In Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death, and it’s essential to be prepared for a time when you may not have the capacity to make important legal or medical decisions. In this blog, we’ll explore steps before that happens.
Nominate an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA):
Establishing an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a crucial aspect of planning for incapacity. This legal agreement empowers a trusted individual to make financial, health, and personal decisions on your behalf if you lose capacity. However, it’s important to note that rules vary among Australian States and Territories. An EPOA can decide personal, financial, or both matters in some regions. Understanding the distinctions is vital in ensuring comprehensive coverage.
Differences Among States and Territories:
– Victoria, Queensland, and the ACT allow EPOAs to decide on personal, financial, or both matters.
– NSW, WA, and TAS limit EPOAs to legal and financial decisions, with enduring guardians handling medical and lifestyle matters.
– South Australia allows EPOAs for legal and financial decisions, while an advance care directive covers health care, living arrangements, and personal matters.
– The Northern Territory appoints a decision-maker under an ‘advance personal plan’ for finance, property, lifestyle, and health care matters.
Enduring Guardianship (EG):
– In NSW, WA, and TAS, an Enduring Guardianship (EG) authorises someone to make lifestyle, health, and medical decisions for you.
– EGs can influence living arrangements, health services, and medical treatments.
Advance Care Directive:
– This option involves creating an official record of your wishes and values regarding medical treatment and healthcare decisions.
– Most States and Territories have their version of a health care directive, allowing you to express your directions, wishes, and values.
– For those with a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF), ensuring that the trust deed allows for an EPOA is critical.
– Without an EPOA, a member losing mental capacity may jeopardise the SMSF’s compliance, leading to potential taxation at 45%.
Seeking Professional Advice:
– Making decisions about enduring powers and guardianships is complex, so it’s advisable to seek advice from a legal professional.
– Legal professionals can assist in appointing a trusted person to manage affairs when capacity is compromised.
Planning for cognitive decline may be difficult, but being prepared ensures you have options to manage your affairs effectively. Take the time to understand the legal nuances in your region and consult with professionals to make informed decisions about enduring powers and guardianships. Remember, planning today ensures a smoother tomorrow.