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Elderly woman with two carers

Legal support for family and carers

Sometimes as a carer you may be asked to make decisions about the personal affairs of the person you’re caring for.

Family and friends can help informally by making decisions with you. But some decisions can only be made by someone with the legal authority to do so. There are laws in each state and territory that say who has the legal authority to make decisions, particularly for things like providing consent for a medical procedure on for someone if they’re no longer able to do so.

As a carer you may also need legal support to carry out some of the things the person you’re caring for will need you to do. This may mean you need to organise a power of attorney or apply for guardianship or administration rights.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives the nominated person (the attorney) the power to act on a person’s behalf and manage their affairs. It lets the attorney manage the person’s assets and financial affairs when they do not want to conduct them personally, or they are unable to do so, for example, if the person you care for finds it hard to sign documents because they have poor eyesight or unsteady hands.

What are guardianship and administration rights?

Depending on the types of decisions that need to be made, a carer may sometimes need to apply for guardianship or administration rights. A guardian is a legally appointed decision maker for someone. They may make lifestyle decisions, such as where a person should live, and can give consent to medical, dental and health care services. An administrator acts as a financial manager and looks after a person’s property and finances.

More information

You can find out more about legal rights for carers on Carer Gateway.

Read more about the legal documents that My Aged Care needs for you to represent the person you are caring for.

Last reviewed: 2 July, 2017.