Resources for attorneys

Understanding an attorney’s role

It’s very important that anyone acting as an attorney fully understands their role and responsibilities. An attorney is legally responsible for the way they carry out this undertaking.

An attorney must make decisions in keeping with what the adult who has written an Enduring Power of Attorney would want. (The form describes the person who is drafting the form as the ‘principal’). The attorney can only make decisions about the areas outlined on the Enduring Power of Attorney form.

The law defines the rules that an attorney must apply when making decisions or speaking on an adult’s behalf. These are the General Principles and the Health Care Principle.

An attorney must:

  • act honestly and with care
  • recognise the principal’s right to confidentiality
  • consider the principal’s existing supportive relationships, values and culture.

In relation to health care decisions, an attorney must:

  • make sure any decision contributes to the principal’s health and wellbeing
  • choose the least-intrusive treatment where possible
  • consider the principal’s views and wishes
  • consider the principal’s doctors or other health care providers’ advice.

In terms of financial matters, an attorney must:

  • avoid entering transactions that may result in their interests (or those of the attorney’s relations, business associates or close friends) conflicting with the principal’s interests
  • keep records and accounts of dealings and transactions
  • keep the principal’s property separate from their own (unless it is jointly owned)
  • not give the principal’s property away, and only give reasonable gifts for birthday/Christmas presents or donations the principal would normally make themselves.

Resources for attorneys

We have published a factsheet on the duties and responsibilities of an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney.

ADA Australia has produced a video explaining the role and how to act appropriately as an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney.