Elder Law


What is Elder Law?


Elder Law is a combination of laws and legal services relevant to and relied upon by older individuals and their families.

Elder Law goes beyond just planning for the distribution of assets after death; it helps empower seniors by enabling them to:

  • manage their personal matters,
  • plan for unexpected situations, and
  • handle age-related challenges.

The types of issues facing elderly Australians include:

  1. Moving out of the family home into:
    • a retirement village,
    • a care facility,
    • a nursing home, or
    • downsizing and moving in with their children.
  2. Abuse of Power of Attorney or Substitute Decision Maker’s powers to make decisions on behalf of someone who no longer has the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
  3. Dealing with applications made to the South Australian Civil Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).


Moving Home


The decision to move into another home is not usually taken lightly.

The reasons for the move are varied and could include that someone has suddenly become single due to the death of a partner, illness, or a desire to downsize.

With the cost of entry into a retirement village, care facility, and nursing home being so high and the availability of housing being so low, many elderly relatives are choosing to live with family.

The elderly relative may either move into a spare room in their family’s home, sell their own house to pay for changes to their child’s home so they can move in, or they may decide to build a new home specifically designed for the whole family to live together.

Every retirement village, care facility, and nursing home has different contracts and conditions that need to be understood and negotiated before being signed.

Even though it may not be essential to obtain legal advice, entering into a contract without doing so is no different to rolling the dice and hoping you win.


Elder Abuse & Abuse of Powers


Many people ensure that they have appointed someone to make decisions on their behalf in the event they lose the capacity to do so, and this can unfortunately lead to elder abuse.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person to make decisions on another person’s behalf, usually financial decisions, and that person is sometimes referred to as the Attorney.

An Advance Care Directive is a legal document that appoints another person to make medical and living/lifestyle decisions for the person who is the subject of such decisions, and that person is known as a Substitute Decision Maker.

Both documents give enormous powers to the persons named on them.

Without these two documents being prepared at a time when a person has capacity, no one has the power to make those decisions, regardless of the relationship to the person without capacity.

In other words, a spouse or a child cannot expect their voice to be heard about decisions for their loved one without that power being given to them either by the loved one before suffering an incapacity or by a Court.

If a Court has to decide who is to be appointed, the Court may choose someone other than the person that may have been preferred and may even appoint the Public Trustee and Public Advocate.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is becoming increasingly common and more elderly people are suffering at the hands of the people they trusted to look after them.


SACAT & Elder Law


If someone has been appointed as an Attorney (under a Power of Attorney), Substitute Decision Maker (under an Advance Care Directive, or both, they ought to approach the roles with great care to ensure that every decision they make is made in the best interests of the person without capacity.

If the view is formed that the person with the power is not carrying out their duties in the best interests of the person without capacity, an application can be made to SACAT to have that person’s powers revoked and another person or entity appointed in their place.

If no suitable person is available to be appointed, the Public Trustee can be appointed to take care of the finances and the Public Advocate can be appointed to make decisions about care arrangements.

If someone loses capacity without having appointed anyone to act as Attorney or Substitute Decision Maker, an application ought to be made to SACAT asking that someone (preferably a family member) be appointed as Attorney and/or Substitute Decision Maker.

Anyone can make an application to SACAT about any person who may be in a vulnerable position due to the decisions being made for that person, including:

  • family members,
  • friends,
  • carers,
  • medical practitioners, or
  • care facility and nursing home operators.

To avoid having someone appointed to make decisions on your behalf without your input, you ought to ensure that all of your estate planning documents are prepared whilst you have capacity.


How We Can Help


Guiding Moves & Housing Decisions

At Bambrick Legal, we understand the unique legal challenges faced by seniors and their families.

Our team of dedicated Elder Law lawyers are here to provide comprehensive assistance with the unique challenges that come with getting older.

Whether you are considering a move to a retirement village, care facility, or downsizing, we can guide you through the contracts and conditions to ensure your rights and wishes are protected.


Securing Your Future

We specialise in addressing issues related to elder abuse, including Attorney and Substitute Decision Maker powers.

Our estates team can help you establish an Enduring Power of Attorney or an Advance Care Directive to appoint trusted individuals to make financial and living arrangement decisions on your behalf.

We emphasise the importance of proactive planning to prevent potential disputes and safeguard your autonomy.


Resolving Powers of Attorney Issues

If you or a loved one is facing challenges in managing powers granted through an Enduring Power of Attorney or as a Substitute Decision Maker, we can assist in making applications to the SACAT.

Our team of Elder Law lawyers are well-versed in advocating for the best interests of the individual, ensuring responsible decision-making and, when necessary, seeking the appointment of a suitable representative.


Advocating for Best Interests at SACAT

Whether you need assistance with negotiating contracts for housing, reviewing Wills, or addressing concerns related to elder abuse, our Elder Law lawyers are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal support.


Contact Us


To speak with our Elder Law lawyers, contact Bambrick Legal today. We offer a free, no-obligation 15-minute consultation for all enquiries.

Related Blog – What is an Executor of a Will?

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