What if I don't have a plan?

While you may never lose the ability to manage your own affairs, none of us knows what the future holds.

You may hope that if you become less able to make your own decisions about your finances, your health care or personal lifestyle, that your family and friends would be able to support you informally. This is very desirable and beneficial for daily living but when more complex decisions have to be made, especially if they involve financial transactions or, for example, moving into aged care or organising in-home care support, someone usually needs to be legally appointed to act on your behalf. You can appoint someone by completing an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) which means you give someone the power to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

Ideally, the person you appoint as your attorney is someone who knows you well and understands your wishes. It is important to take the time to choose the most-appropriate person who is willing and able to make decisions on your behalf. For help with this decision, please see 'Who should speak for you'?

Alternatively, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is able to legally appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you have not made an Enduring Power of Attorney. It can consider an application from anyone concerned about your situation: a family member, health care or aged care professional or family friend.

A person appointed by QCAT to make personal and health care decisions for you is known as a private guardian. Someone appointed to make financial decisions on your behalf is known as a private administrator. If there is no suitable family member or close friend to assume these roles, QCAT may appoint the Public Guardian as your guardian, and/or the Public Trustee as your administrator. The Queensland Government website has more information about how the guardianship process works in Queensland. So while there is a safety net in place, the Public Guardian and the Public Trustee should be considered as attorneys of last resort. Because in some situations you may find yourself with little say in who makes decisions on your behalf, or even have someone appointed who has never met you before.

Planning ahead helps make sure that, if the situation ever arises, you control how decisions are made in the future, and by whom.