Becoming an Attorney

A person who is planning ahead for decisions they may need to make in the future will be able to choose someone they know and trust to be their attorney. This is written down in an enduring power of attorney.

An attorney’s role is to make certain decisions on behalf of the person, if they lose the ability to make those decisions in the future. These decisions will be about the person’s welfare or their property and money matters.

A person can choose more than one person to be their attorney. They will have to write down whether they want their attorneys to make decisions separately, or together, or both.

You do not have to be a lawyer to act as an attorney, but you do need to able to perform the functions written down by the person in their enduring power of attorney.

This is similar to how people were appointed as an attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act 1996. It is different because under the new law, we will supervise attorneys and make sure they are doing their job correctly.

Who can be an attorney?

You can become an attorney if you are an adult (18 years and over). You do not have to be a lawyer, but you must be able to perform the functions in the enduring power of attorney.

Some people cannot be an attorney. You are not allowed to be an attorney if you:

  • have been convicted of an offence against the person or their child
  • are financially insolvent (unless the agreement only relates to personal welfare decisions)
  • are the owner or a registered provider of a designated centre or mental health facility where the person lives (unless you are a relative of the person)
  • have been convicted of an offence relating to making a false statement in or about application to make a decision support arrangement
  • have been convicted of an offence of forcing or pressuring a person to make a decision support arrangement
  • have been convicted of an offence of ill-treating or wilfully neglecting a relevant person

What is involved in being an attorney?

As an attorney, your role is to make certain decisions on behalf of the person. You can only make decisions that are listed in the enduring power of attorney. You may be given a general authority to make decisions, or a specific authority to make specific decisions about their personal welfare or property and affairs, or both.

Read more about What is involved in being an attorney?

Monitoring and supervision

Attorneys are supervised by the Decision Support Service and have to send a written report to us every year. These reports include details of big decisions taken as part of the arrangement, transactions made on behalf of the person and any expenses claimed by the attorney.

Read more about Monitoring and supervision

Complaints about an attorney

Any person can make a complaint about an attorney. Complaints must be made in writing must be for one of the following reasons:

  • the attorney is making, or is trying to make, decisions that are not included in the arrangement
  • the attorney is unable to perform their role
  • the attorney used fraud, coercion or pressure to get the person to make the enduring power of attorney

Find out more about making a complaint about an attorney

How do you become an attorney?

If a person wants you to be their attorney, they will make an enduring power of attorney. Your authority as an attorney only begins if and when the person who registers the enduring power of attorney loses the ability to make one or more of the decisions in the arrangement.

Read more about How do you become an attorney?

How to find out if someone is an attorney?

You can find out if someone is an attorney by asking them to see a certified copy of the enduring power of attorney. This is provided to the attorney when the enduring power of attorney comes in effect and may be requested by anyone who may have dealings with the attorney.

You can also search the register of enduring powers of attorney.

Read more about How to find out if someone is an attorney?