Guide to a Supportive Power of Attorney in VIC

Learn about the supportive attorney role that’s available in Victoria for those wanting a little help when it comes to financial and personal matters.
Guide to a Supportive Power of Attorney in VIC

What is a supportive power of attorney?

If you are an adult in Victoria with decision-making capacity, you can legally choose another person as a ‘supportive attorney’ to help you make decisions about your financial or personal matters. This means they will have legal authority to access information about you to help you make the said decision, so you must trust this person completely.

Who needs a supportive attorney?

There are many reasons someone would need a supportive attorney, but it depends on your particular situation. For instance, you may want someone to speak to your bank to help you make a financial decision, or talk to support workers about services you require.

Privacy laws mean organisations are not able to give information about you to someone else without your permission, which is also why some people appoint a supportive power of attorney. 

Who can be a supportive attorney?

Not just anyone can take on this important role! The supportive attorney must:

  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Not be insolvent (in non-legal jargon, they must not owe any debts that they are unable to repay).
  • Not have been found guilty of a dishonesty offence.

Additionally, people who occupy certain roles in your life are not able to act as your supportive attorney. For example, your care worker, or health or accommodation provider is not eligible for this role. 

What a supportive attorney can do

A supportive attorney can gain access to private information about you from places like your bank or utility provider, for example. They can chat with others about your decisions and take action, like emailing or making calls to set up services you need. However, there are limits to what they can do.

What a supportive attorney can’t do

While the role of a supportive attorney involves some extra responsibility, there are limits to what they can legally do. This ensures safeguards against financial or other forms of elder abuse.

Here are some examples of what a supportive attorney cannot do:

  • They can’t help you act on a decision about a significant financial transaction, aka big money moves, like selling a house or buying a new car.
  • Unless you’ve appointed them as your medical support person too, they can’t help you with decisions relating to medical treatment.
  • Their appointment is only valid if you have decision-making capacity. To be crystal clear, it does not have effect during any period that you do not have decision-making capacity.

How to appoint a supportive attorney

To appoint a supportive attorney, there are three steps.

Choose someone you trust

This should be someone who respects your rights and your independence. Note that there can be more than one supportive attorney appointment, and they act separately. 

Decide what kind of decisions you want help making

You can give your supportive attorney permission to help you access, collect or obtain information, or communicate your decisions. It’s totally up to you.

Complete the supportive attorney appointment form

Created by the Department of Justice & Community Safety, you have the option to complete a ‘short form’ to appoint a single supportive attorney or a ‘long form’ to appoint multiple supportive attorneys.

Ending and cancelling a supportive attorney

Don't worry, a supportive attorney doesn’t last forever. It will end if:

  • You revoke the appointment (all power to you!)
  • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) revokes the power.
  • You die (sorry to be blunt, but that’s how the dice rolls).
  • The supportive attorney dies, and you do not have a back-up supportive attorney.

Your supportive attorney’s role also ends if:

  • They resign.
  • They are no longer eligible to act as your supportive attorney.
  • They no longer have the decision-making capacity to support you.
  • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) revokes their appointment.

Things to know before you sign

If you’re looking for a checklist of things to look out for before you sign on the dotted line, you can find plenty of downloadable resources here.

Wrap up

A supportive attorney can't handle big financial decisions, but they can get information from banks and utilities, communicate with organisations for you, and take steps to carry out your decisions. Remember, they can't make decisions on your behalf, and if you no longer have your decision-making capacity, their appointment as your supportive attorney will not stand.

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Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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