Nominating the Public Guardian as your attorney

Ideally, you would ask a family member or friend to make personal and health care decisions on your behalf if you did not have capacity to do so. This is because the person you choose needs to know you and understand what you would want in the future. They would be in regular contact with you, so would take any change in your health, relationships or circumstances into account if they need to act on your behalf in the future.

However, if no one in your life could fulfil this role, you can nominate the Public Guardian.

If appointed, the Public Guardian must be the sole attorney for personal and health matters. The Public Guardian does not accept joint appointments with other attorneys. However, we can act in succession, that is, if your primary attorney is no longer able to carry out the role, for example, because of illness or death.

Remember that you can’t choose the Public Guardian to make future decisions about your money and property. You could choose a family member, friend, your accountant or solicitor to do this, or The Public Trustee or a private trustee firm  would also take on this role for a fee.

How to nominate the Public Guardian as your attorney for personal and health care matters

Two forms need to be submitted:

You can enter your details via a computer but the forms must be printed to be signed by an authorised witness. The Enduring Power of Attorney form must also be witnessed by a justice of the peace, a commissioner for declarations, a lawyer or a notary public. (To find a justice of the peace, click here.) Information about witnessing is included on the form.

The Enduring Power of Attorney form comes in a short or long version, but you must use the long form if you want to appoint the Public Guardian for personal and health care decisions, and someone else as an attorney for financial matters.

Only use the short form when you want to appoint the Public Guardian as your decision maker for personal and health care matters but don’t want to appoint anyone for financial decisions. If you use the short form, only tick the one box under Question 1 ‘for personal and health care matters’.

If you have any questions, phone us on 1300 653 187. If you don’t have access to a printer, ask us to send you an information pack which includes the application form to appoint the Public Guardian, plus the two types of Enduring Power of Attorney forms. These can be completed by hand.

You can also decide to complete an Advance Health Directive to provide more detailed information about your future health care wishes. This can be sent to the Public Guardian with your Enduring Power of Attorney so we have a full picture of your wishes for your future health decisions. This must be signed by your doctor and witnessed before you send it to us.

What happens next?

We’ll read your application and may contact you seeking more detail about your situation. Incomplete forms will be returned to you to be completed. All forms need to be signed by you and witnessed before the Public Guardian will accept the appointment.

If we’re able to accept the nomination to act as your attorney for personal and health care matters, the Office of the Public Guardian will sign the original Enduring Power of Attorney form (and, if submitted, Advance Health Directive) as attorney, scan it and save a copy for our records, and return the original with a cover letter for you to keep.