Registration of powers of attorney

There have been moves over recent months for enduring powers of attorney to be standardised throughout Australia and for them to be placed on a national register.

These moves are just the latest in a fairly long series of attempts over many years to get this put in place.

We are often asked whether there is a register for this purpose in Victoria, but there has never been such a register.

There are registers of one flavour another in some of the other States.

It is difficult to determine to what extent the State and federal attorneys general have progressed this latest attempt but it is hoped that progress is being made.

The benefits of such a register are manyfold, and there are also obvious benefits to having powers of attorney in all States look the same/have the same format.

It is becoming more and more common for people to travel and take up residence in other States or for children to be living in a different State to their parents.

The current law in all States is that as long as a power of attorney is validly prepared in one State it will be valid in another State.  However, this is not necessarily known to those relying upon the power, and it is often  very difficult to know whether a power has been validly executed in another State.

Some of the benefits of registering enduring powers of attorney are:

  • Anyone relying on a power can check it is current and valid
  • Abuse of powers should be reduced, for instance because a person could not use a power that has been revoked
  • Only one power can be registered at any one time
  • Provision of clarity as to what powers an attorney has, if conditions and limitations are contained in the power
  • Assist in cases where the original has been lost or destroyed, especially where the donor of the power no longer has capacity to draw a new one
  • Confirmation as to who has been appointed attorney
  • If financial institutions need to verify a power quickly to enable an important transaction to be carried out
  • If financial abuse of powers of attorney is reduced there will be a consequential reduction in the resources needed to deal with abuse, such as applications to courts and tribunals

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