National

Push for online power of attorney register

By AAP Newswire

A national power of attorney register to help combat elder financial abuse is a step closer after a meeting of the nation's top law officers.

The register will ensure powers of attorney are valid, in a bid to prevent adult children impatient to get their hands on their inheritance stealing from vulnerable parents.

There is currently no way of checking the whether power-of-attorney documents are valid.

The Council of Attorney's General, meeting in Perth on Friday, agreed to gather options for harmonising enduring powers of attorney, in particular financial powers, as part of a national plan to combat elder abuse.

The federal government announced funding for an online register in this year's budget, with elderly advocacy groups and the banking sector also supportive of the idea.

Council of the Ageing and National Seniors Australia chief Ian Yates said state and federal governments needed to do more to address adult children's impatience to get their hands on inheritances.

"The situation as it stands is completely unacceptable and we need to do much more to actively prevent financial abuse of older Australians from occurring," Mr Yates said.

The Australian Banking Association chief Anna Bligh said the industry was united with seniors groups on the need for reform.

The Commonwealth Bank is training staff in detecting signs of financial elder abuse, as well as producing a "safe and savvy" guide for customers.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson, who advised the bank on the program, said it was a step in the right direction.

"The program is an important measure for the banking industry in educating the community on the warning signs and ways older Australians can protect themselves from financial abuse," Dr Patterson said.