Should I appoint an enduring guardian?

Date: Dec 01, 2007
Document Type: Article, Q&A

You should approach this decision in the same way you would approach the decision to make a valid will; its about catering for unpleasant possibilities that you can’t fully contemplate now, but doing so in the interest of your loved ones and yourself.

We all know or know of people who have lost the ability to manage their own affairs and make basic decisions about their lives, whether through mental or physical infirmity, misadventure, and so on.

It will not happen to everyone, of course, but there remains the possibility that it could still happen to you. For example, the increasing incidence of mental infirmity in old age make it increasingly likely that many of us will, at some point in our life, lose the ability to make decisions for ourselves. 

Often, when this happens, family members are unsure of how to best care for the infirm and may have very different ideas about how it should be done.

An enduring guardian, appointed by you, will make decisions about how you live, in the event it happens to you.

You can be selective as to what control you want them to have; you may not wish to allocate complete responsibility to one person but several, or may not want anyone to make certain decisions for you. As long as you are of sound mind, you can reverse or modify the appointment of an enduring guardian. 

There are several things an enduring guardian cannot perform under any circumstances, such as financial or legal decisions  - these are the responsibility of one’s power of attorney.

Like making a will, appointing an enduring guardian is something you do for the loved ones around you who may one day be faced with this situation.

Unlike writing a will, however, this is also something you can do for yourself. An enduring guardian makes lifestyle decisions and can deal with other very personal matters. By appointing someone now, you can still exercise some control over how you will live later and the decisions that are made for you. If you lose the ability to decide, it is important to have someone – or several people - who you can trust to make the right decisions for you.

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