Most people have heard about Powers of Attorney, usually through involvement with a family member.  Powers of Attorney are important appointments which help plan for the unexpected contingencies in life.  The appointment of Enduring Guardians are just as important.  While Powers of Attorney let you appoint someone to manage your financial affairs (in the event that you are unable to do so yourself) Enduring Guardians deal with lifestyle decisions, such as where you might live or what type of health care you receive.

We tend to think about the need for Powers of Attorney or Enduring Guardians when we start to get close to retirement.  However, often life throws at us a curve ball that is unexpected.  That is why it is important to consider appointing someone as your attorney or enduring guardian even when you are young and in good health.

It is preferable to appoint someone you trust and prefer rather than potentially leaving to the Guardianship Tribunal to appoint someone.  A recent case before the Tribunal illustrates this.

The subject person was 40 years old who had suffered a severe cerebral haemorrhage.  She was living with her parents and was separated from her husband.  Her former husband had made the application to the Tribunal to be her guardian as he did not believe that she was getting proper health care.

There was evidence presented to the Tribunal from some of her doctors which can be summarised as follows:

  • Her disability affected her capacity to make decisions regarding her accommodation, health and medical care;
  • She was deprived of assistance needed to overcome her anxiety as members of her family were not facilitating her care;
  • Members of the family had arranged non-Western medical therapies, such as spiritual healing;
  • Decisions made by family members restrict her access to rehabilitation therapy during the most vital stages of recovery.

After weighing the evidence up, the Tribunal appointed the Public Guardian as her guardian.  The decision regarding her wellbeing was therefore taken out of the hands of her family members.  There was no evidence regarding what therapies or interventions she preferred.

Accordingly, it is a good idea to appoint someone you trust and discuss with them what you treatment you expect so as to avoid unforseen consequences.