National powers of attorney register a big win in fight against elder abuse

Mandatory national online register considered a big win in the fight against financial elder abuse.

woman signing up her power of attorney

Establishing minimum standards for powers of attorney would go a long way towards fighting financial elder abuse, according to the coalition that is pushing for changes and which has welcomed a decision to create a national register.

The coalition, comprising Bauer Media, the Australian Banking Association, the Seniors Rights Service, Elder Abuse Action Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network, National Seniors and the Council on the Ageing, is campaigning for key changes to tackle financial elder abuse.

The enactment of a national register by the Council of Attorneys General is a reform that protects older Australians at risk of elder abuse, says Australian Banking Association chief Anna Bligh.

“[The] decisions by the nation’s attorneys general to establish a mandatory national online register of powers of attorney will empower bank branch staff who are often at the frontline of detection of elder financial abuse,” she said.

“The leadership of the federal attorney general Christian Porter in taking this initiative to [the] Council of Attorneys General meeting was a critical turning point in this campaign.

 


“A mandatory national online register will help bank staff check to ensure a power of attorney is valid and up to date when a customer comes into a branch to complete transactions on someone else’s behalf.

“The campaign still has a long way to go. We need to see this register established as quickly as possible, completely standardised power of attorney laws across the country and a safe place to report abuse to help tackle elder financial abuse.”

This decision is the first step towards tackling the growing problems faced by many older Australians, but more action is needed, says Bauer Media chief Brendon Hill.

“We welcome the decision made by governments to begin urgently needed reform around elder financial abuse and move to stamp it out. It’s a growing problem faced by many elderly Australians and coordinated action is needed to address it. This is the start of that,” he said.

Age discrimination commissioner Dr Kay Patterson added: “I welcome the progress the attorneys general have made towards developing one power of attorney document. I reiterate my call for the implementation of this initiative before end of July 2021.

“Commitment to a mandatory register for power of attorney documents will be one more measure to reduce the likelihood of financial abuse of older Australians.

“I look forward to ensuring that the advance made at today’s meeting of the attorneys general remains a key priority with defined outcomes,” she said.

Should powers of attorney be ‘qualified’? Or is this bureaucracy gone mad?

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COMMENTS

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Tanker
3rd Dec 2019
11:12am
It is a reflection of the outrageous behaviour of those who have been entrusted with the Power of Attorney. It is the old story of a few band apples spoiling the system for the rest of us.
Tanker
3rd Dec 2019
11:12am
It is a reflection of the outrageous behaviour of those who have been entrusted with the Power of Attorney. It is the old story of a few band apples spoiling the system for the rest of us.
adbob
3rd Dec 2019
11:46am
That's a positive step - but we have to realise that most elder abuse is done by offspring taking advantage of their parents' warm feelings towards them which they no longer reciprocate - they are in mid-life with kids, mortgage, spouse, bills to pay etc - growing up with mum and dad is ancient history.

Sadly it's difficult to legislate against that because it is hard to distinguish between genuine cases of parents wanting to endow their offspring ahead of their own demise and the increasingly common cases of "inheritance impatience" when offspring try to force the issue - also dribs and drabs of unrepaid loans when offspring overspend etc and come up with sob stories for why they need a bit of cash and you'll hardly notice it from your enormous pension pot will you.

Not all family relationships are alike.
park_grandma
3rd Dec 2019
12:25pm
Local bank branches are disappearing like snow in summer, so that is no solution at all!
Sceptic
3rd Dec 2019
2:54pm
Not good at all. There must be a simpler way. This will cost as any register costs to maintain and it will be covered by a charge on the people that wish to register their PoAs. If I remember correctly, to register in the UK costs something like 1000 pounds. An imposition on the elderly. My wife and I have had reciprocal PoAs since we were in our thirties and I was often working abroad. We have updated them as the new medical and financial ones became mandatory, but would strongly object to paying a bureaucracy a registration fee, or should I say a registration fee for each of our PoAs.
Horace Cope
3rd Dec 2019
4:03pm
How is this a step forward? We have Enduring Powers of Attorney which were signed many years ago for the express purpose of allowing for Alzheimers if that should ever happen. What is a bank clerk going to do should one of us produce a very old, but still legal, document and start dealing with a dormant account? They will be on very shaky grounds if they refuse to honour the document and could leave themselves and their employer open to a damages suit worth a damn sight more than the amount trying to be "protected". This smacks of Big Brother and is only being discussed because a few people have robbed family members. Most of us are honest people who don't need or want such mooted legislation.
maelcolium
3rd Dec 2019
4:26pm
Wait ….. what?

The banksters union wants to establish a national register of POA's. Are they really so concerned for older Australians or can I detect the stench of self interest?

Here's an idea for the banks. Stop illegal transfers of money around the world which support crime. When you've fixed the mess in your own back yard then maybe people will trust you again …….. maybe.
Chooky
3rd Dec 2019
7:49pm
Damn straight
Robbo
3rd Dec 2019
5:17pm
I had POA for both my parents. On both occasions of their hospitalisation prior to death, I wasn't contacted. Dad wasted his time and money paying a lawyer to drw them the POAs up.

Why not have a mandatory flag on hospital admissions for elderly patients that requires staff to check the POA register for who to contact for treatment / resuscitation decisions??
It's not just abou the money.

Let's hope it works out better others.
Unikat
3rd Dec 2019
6:48pm
VCAT totally ignored my mother`s power of attorney and appointed an administrator despite my mother`s protests at the hearing - my mother had hysterics due to her justfied fears of losing control of her affairs but the judge took that as proof of her mental incapacity rather than her realisation that she was being denied self determination.
Blossom
3rd Dec 2019
8:42pm
I had Enduring Power of Attorney for my Mum. I only did a withdrawal from it once. I paid all the accounts including her medications out of I when my bank was getting too low to pay all of them myself.
Blossom
3rd Dec 2019
8:42pm
I had Enduring Power of Attorney for my Mum. I only did a withdrawal from it once. I paid all the accounts including her medications out of I when my bank was getting too low to pay all of them myself.
PhilJ
4th Dec 2019
9:22am
It is one thing to have a register, but another for the rest of the business community to understand the intent of such a document. One of our parents with mid-stage dementia who had a financial power of attorney in place was taken to the local CBA bank branch by a relative and withdrew a significant amount of cash.

This was our local CBA branch, a bank branch we had visited, presented and gave a copy of financial power of attorney to at the time the Power of Attorney was drawn up - at the time the staff said they had made notes on the account – or so they said, spoke in-person to staff about the dementia issues and the fact the parent no longer had any concept of the value of money anymore.

When confronted with this transaction, they said, if the person who owns the accounts turns up (power of attorney or not), they will process the transaction .... so what is the point?

This occurred a couple of years ago - so I certainly hope the banks have got their act together around the Intent of a Power of Attorney in such cases.
Hairy
4th Dec 2019
1:09pm
This bloody discriminating pensioner bashing goverment we have is committing elderly abuse every day in the media ,I’m ashamed to be Australian,these pack of educated f:::wits want to worry you like a mad dog so you have a heart attack and disappear .they treat pensioners like they have a plague,Absolutely disgraceful behaviour for Human beings ,but karma will prevail ,their turn to feel the plague in their veins will come.