A number of alternative arrangements are available to adults with impaired decision making capacity who have family, friends and a support network to help them with important choices. It is important to remember that many of these alternative arrangements can only be put into place while an adult has decision making capacity.
Enduring power of attorney
While an adult still has capacity they can appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf through an enduring power of attorney. An enduring power of attorney remains in effect until the death of the adult. It does not lapse when the adult loses decision making capacity. An adult can cancel the enduring power of attorney while they still have capacity.
For personal matters, an enduring power of attorney begins only if the adult becomes incapable of making decisions. An adult can choose to give an attorney immediate power or can set a particular time when the power starts. If an adult loses capacity to make decisions before the particular time, then the enduring power of attorney begins as soon as the attorney is notified of the adult’s condition.
QCAT cannot give advice about completing an enduring power of attorney but can make a declaration about whether an adult has capacity to make an enduring power of attorney. QCAT may also make a declaration about the validity of an appointment or the administrator's actions.
Make an application related to an enduring power of attorney.
General power of attorney
While an adult still has capacity they can appoint someone to make financial decisions on their behalf when they are absent. For example, the adult may be overseas and may need bills paid.
In this situation a general power of attorney may be appointed. A general power of attorney ceases when an adult loses capacity.
Advance health directive
While an adult still has decision making capacity, they can record their wishes about their health and any medical treatment and appoint an attorney for personal and health matters on an advance health directive.
This means that if the adult becomes seriously ill, unconscious or cannot communicate their health care wishes, critical decisions can be made, which reflect their wishes. An advance health directive remains in effect until the death of the adult. It does not lapse when the adult loses decision making capacity.
Statutory health attorney
A statutory health attorney is someone with automatic authority to make health care decisions on behalf of an adult whose ability to make decisions is permanently or temporarily impaired.
There is no need to formally appoint a statutory health attorney. A person automatically acts in this role when the need arises because of their relationship with the patient, for example:
- a spouse or de facto partner (as long as the relationship is close and continuing)
- a person who is responsible for the adult’s primary care (but is not a paid carer, although they can receive a carer’s pension) or
- a close friend or relative (over the age of 18).
A person must not be a paid carer, a health provider or a service provider for a residential service where the adult is a resident.
If there is no one suitable or available, the Public Guardian acts as the statutory health attorney as a last resort .
QCAT does not make any decisions about advance health directives or statutory health attorneys.
For further information about any of these arrangements:
- the Queensland Government’s website (access to forms for enduring powers of attorney)
- Office of the Public Guardian (can be appointed as guardians and investigate abuse allegations)
- Queensland Law Society (to locate a solicitor for independent legal advice)
- the Australian Guardianship and Administration Council has produced a publication 'You Decide Who Decides, which has information about making an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters.
Descriptions of QCAT's jurisdiction on this website are general information only. They do not definitively describe the types of applications on which QCAT can make decisions. The relevant legislation determines QCAT's jurisdiction. If you are unsure about your legal rights, you should seek legal advice. Your individual circumstances should guide any actions taken to resolve your dispute.