Who should speak for you?

This is probably the most important choice you’ll make. The person you nominate as your attorney will have legal power to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to make them yourself. Your attorney must be at least 18 years old and have the capacity for the matter you are appointing them for. They cannot be:

  • your paid carer, or have been your paid carer at any time in the previous three years (a person receiving a carer's pension is not considered a paid carer
  • your health provider (e.g. doctor, medical specialist, nurse)
  • your service provider (e.g. paid support worker) for a residential service where you are a resident
  • a bankrupt (if being appointed as an attorney for financial matters

Additionally, you’ll want to be confident that they understand your values and wishes, and have the skills to make good choices for you. They need to be willing to take on the responsibility, and able to understand your personal wishes and health care needs.

Qualities important to you may include:

  • trustworthiness
  • the ability to manage money well
  • the ability to stay calm in a crisis
  • the confidence to speak up on your behalf
  • availability
  • willingness to listen to, and act on your wishes and preferences rather than their own
  • confidence to talk to doctors and lawyers.

Once you have identified the qualities important to you, think objectively about the people close to you. You don’t have to nominate a relative; depending on your situation a trusted friend may also be a good choice for you.


  • all your options, for example, trusted friends, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews; you don’t have to appoint your adult children or life partner (but remember that an attorney must be over the age of 18 years)
  • the age of the person you have in mind
  • who will be able to make good decisions for you during, what may be, a period of crisis
  • appointing one or more alternative attorneys in case your attorney is unable or unwilling to act when needed
  • the effect of appointing someone experiencing their own difficulties, including financial problems or addiction
  • the downside of appointing someone just to maintain harmony within the family now. The best way to ensure family harmony in the long term may be to discuss issues now. This way you can participate and appoint the most-appropriate person to the role.

What you shouldn’t do:

  • You shouldn’t appoint someone solely based on their family position, for example, because they’re the eldest child. They may not be the most-suitable person and you shouldn’t feel you have to nominate someone out of a sense of obligation.
  • Don’t appoint someone if you are feeling pressured to do so. It’s up to you to decide who to appoint. If you have any reservations about whether someone will make the decisions you would make if you could, it’s a good idea to look for someone else.

Adapted with permission from 'You Decide Who Decides' © Office of the Public Advocate (State of Victoria) 2019.

Nominating the Public Guardian as your attorney

If you are unable to identify someone suitable for this important role, you can nominate the Public Guardian as your attorney for personal and health care decisions. Please note that we can’t make decisions about financial matters.