Enduring Powers Of Attorney – What You Need To Know About Them

Author:Mr Mark Ludlow
Profession:Ronan Daly Jermyn

What is an Enduring Powers of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”) is a legal document. It allows you to choose who will make certain decisions for you in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. If you do not have an EPA in place and you lose mental capacity wardship may be the only alternative.

The powers under an EPA only come into effect if you lose mental capacity. This could occur gradually over time if you develop a neurological disease such as Alzheimer's, but could also occur suddenly if you suffer a head injury in an accident.

What type of powers would the attorney have and how do they exercise them?

Within certain limits, you decide the scope of the powers you grant to your attorney (or attorneys) and the circumstances in which they can exercise them is for you to decide.

You could give your attorneys power to make "personal care decisions" or “financial decisions” or both. You could appoint one attorney (or a number of attorneys) to make financial decisions for you, and a different attorney(s) to make personal care decisions for you. If you are appointing multiple attorneys then you can decide whether they must all agree on each decision (act jointly), or whether they can act independently of each other (or act jointly and severally). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Does the attorney have to be a lawyer (solicitor / barrister)?

No, while we are familiar with American television programs which describe lawyers as 'attorneys', in the context of an EPA, an attorney simply refers to the person granted the powers to decide. You can appoint a trusted family member or friend and in practice this is what tends to happen.

What are personal care decisions?

A personal care decision is a decision concerning one or more of the following:

Where and with whom you should live Whom you should see and not see What training and rehabilitation you should get Your diet and dress Inspection of your personal papers Housing, social welfare and other benefits I have a will, do I need an EPA?

A will and an EPA are different. A will only takes effect on your death. An EPA can only operate during your life, and only in the event that you lose mental capacity. Whether you wish to put an EPA in place is a personal decision.

Are there safeguards and conditions?

Yes, there are a number of conditions which must be complied with before an EPA can be put in place, and again before it can become...

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