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Helpful terms to know

The following are terms that you’ll find as you read information about powers of attorney. Some terms are the same across different jurisdictions, but some vary.

Last updated: 15 March 2022

The following are terms that you’ll find as you read information about powers of attorney. Some terms are the same across different jurisdictions, but some vary.

Senior woman

Terms about powers of attorney

Future planning

In the context of older age, a term for actively making advance plans to enable a person to live their later years with the most independence, security, wellbeing and dignity possible. It can involve considering and planning for factors such as housing options, healthcare decisions, financial management, and respect of lifestyle values.

Power of attorney

A written document that allows a person to authorise someone else to act on their behalf.

Enduring power of attorney, enduring power

A legal document that allows a person to nominate someone else to manage their financial decisions if they lose capacity and become unable to do so themselves. It is known as an ‘advance personal plan’ in the Northern Territory.

Advance personal plan (NT)

The name for an enduring power of attorney in the Northern Territory since 2014.

General power of attorney, general non-enduring power of attorney

A legal document that allows a person to nominate someone to manage their decision-making in specified circumstances and/or for particular periods of time – for example, while travelling or in hospital – while they still have capacity.

Principal, donor (Tas, SA, WA, NT)

The person who is making the power of attorney. The role is called a ‘donor’ in Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Attorney, donee (SA, WA)

The person nominated to manage the principal’s affairs under the power of attorney. The role is called a ‘donee’ in South Australia and Western Australia.

Supportive power of attorney (VIC)

In Victoria, an attorney appointed to help someone who has capacity with making decisions.

Successive attorney (QLD)

A substitute attorney, who can take up the role if one of the original appointments no longer can.

Alternative attorney (QLD)

An attorney who fills in for another attorney for a specific time.

Senior man smilling

Terms about decision-making capacity

Capacity, mental capacity (TAS)

A legal term referring to a person’s ability to understand and make their own decisions.

Have capacity, full legal capacity (WA)

When a person is able to understand and make their own decisions.

Lose capacity

When a person becomes no longer capable of making their own decisions

Diminished capacity, impaired capacity (SA)

When a person’s ability to understand and make their own decisions has decreased to some extent.

Legally incapacitated (SA)

Describing a person who is no longer able to understand the legal action or arrangements.

Insight

A person’s ability to understand their own decision-making capacity.

Witness

All legal documents require witnessing, and who is authorised to witness these documents differ between each state and territory. Please check your local guides.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not a substitute for individual legal advice.

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