Now that the Proudman family is back on our TV screens you are more than likely to find a few Offspring fanatics discussing the latest episode in our office kitchen on a Thursday morning.
Whilst I hope your life is nowhere near as unlucky as Nina’s, there is one big lesson we can learn from Patrick’s tragic death (aside from not running in front of a car on the way to your partner’s baby shower). That being – we should all have an Estate Plan.
Most people think of an Estate Plan as just a Will and neglect to plan for an event such as Patrick surviving the collision with the car and ending up with permanent mental impairment or unconsciousness. This means that everyone should also be thinking about preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney!
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that comes into play if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This could be because you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated due to an accident or illness.
If this occurs the person you appoint (your agent) has the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding your legal, financial and medical matters. In terms of medical treatment, your agent has the power to accept, request or refuse medical treatment on your behalf.
In the case of Patrick (and the magical world of television) we can assume that Nina was Patrick’s Power of Attorney, because she was authorised to consent to Patrick’s wishes for organ donation and ultimately turn off his life support. But don’t worry Nina could not have refused emergency, lifesaving treatment, so there is no conspiracy theory to be had there.
If on the other hand Patrick did not have a Power of Attorney in place, Nina would likely have still been the decision maker, because as Patrick’s de facto partner, she was also his ‘next of kin.’ If Nina wasn’t there, Kate would likely have been the next person to make decisions as Patrick’s sister.
Unfortunately most of us don’t have a director behind the scenes or a script to stick to. If you are suddenly incapacitated and you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney, you may be taking a big risk that the wrong person gets left with some of the most important decisions of your life.
If you would like to draft an Enduring Power of Attorney or you would like to update your existing Estate Plan you should contact one of your Estate Lawyers today!
Molly works as a Paralegal at our Canberra office.