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Legally Speaking: How to protect your relationship outside of marriage

I guess we’re all a bit bruised by the Turnbull government’s announcement of a postal survey regarding same sex marriage. I know this will be examined in detail in this issue by people who are more knowledgeable than I. So, when I was preparing to write I looked at what I felt I can offer the community in this stretch of time between now, the vote and the outcome. I decided what I bring to the game is information about how to keep yourselves and your families protected.

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There are two legal documents that, in my opinion, those in relationships should have. This is especially the case when that relationship has the power to be challenged (as previously discussed) These documents are called Enduring Powers of Attorney and Guardianship. These are the two legal documents that allow you to nominate your partner (and others, if you choose) as the person to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf when you can no longer do them yourself.

Most lawyers don’t like to tell people this but these documents are available for free and with excellent instructions on how to fill them in.

Follow me.

The Office of the Public Advocate, a government organisation, provides both the Enduring Power of Attorney and the Enduring Power of Guardianship as a free download on their website. The page has very clear instructions and it also provides some fact sheets about the documents. If you fill the instructions as directed these forms are as valid as those you would pay a lawyer to draft.

Let’s begin with the Enduring Power of Guardianship. This document is signed by person A when they have legal capacity. They give rights to Person B (usually a partner/spouse) to make decisions regarding Person A’s own medical treatment. Decisions made with this document also include decisions about appropriate accommodation based on physical or mental needs of person A.

The second document is an Enduring Power of Attorney. This document allows person A to give power to person B to make financial decisions – any decision that person A can legally do. This document is important if Person A suddenly becomes incapacitated and bank accounts or other assets must be accessed to pay for medical bills, mortgage repayments and any other number of financial debts issues.

Both of these forms can be found at www.publicadvocate.wa.gov.au.

Protecting your rights, and the rights of your partner and family are what we are currently advocating for. Please take a few minutes to read this piece and visit the website. A small document can end up preventing a serious problem later down the track.

Jo Wynaden

If you’re seeking legal advice, give Jo a call at Sonder Legal
Phone: (08) 6558 1718 / 0449 886 499

Sonder Legal is a financial supporter of OUTinPerth.

Check out last month’s Legally Speaking on de facto relationships here.


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