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New rules for ACT powers of attorney

17 Aug 2016

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  • Wills & Estates
power of attorney

Changes to the Power of Attorney Act 2006 (ACT) scheduled to come into effect on 2 September 2016 will see the introduction of a fourth power into the prescribed enduring power of attorney (‘EPA’) form dealing with ‘medical research matters’. From 2 September 2016, principals can authorise their attorneys to make decisions about ‘medical research matters’ involving ethically-approved ‘low-risk research’ and ‘medical research’. Attorneys do not currently have this power in the ACT.

Low-risk research is defined as research that is carried out for medical or health purposes that poses no foreseeable risk of harm to the person, other than any harm usually associated with the person’s conditions and does not change the treatment appropriate for the person’s condition. An example of low-risk research would be the collection of information through a survey for research purposes or a non-intrusive examination for research purposes.

Medical research is defined to mean research relating to the diagnosis, maintenance or treatment of a medical condition that the person has or has had, or to which the person has a significant risk of being exposed, and includes experimental health care and the administration of medication or the use of equipment or a device as part of a clinical trial. For example, a clinical trial involving a drug usually used for a particular medical condition but trialled as a treatment for a different medical condition.
It is important to understand that, if you have an existing EPA (i.e. prepared before the introduction of these changes) in which you have authorised your attorneys to exercise power in relation to a health care matter, it is taken that you have also authorised your attorneys to make decisions about ‘medical research matters’.

However, in the same way that principals may direct or limit how their nominated attorney/s may act in relation to financial matters, health care matters and personal care matters, principals may also direct or limit their attorneys in any way in respect of these new powers pertaining to medical research matters.

If you would like to discuss what effect the changes may have on your existing EPA, or if you would like to talk to us about preparing a new EPA for you, please contact a member of our wills and estates team.