An Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document which sets out who can take care of your personal care and welfare matters and your property matters if you are not able to yourself. This person is known as your attorney. Having an EPA means you can have peace of mind knowing that you have decided ahead of time who is going to make those important decisions for you in the situation where you cannot yourself. Your attorney does not need to be a lawyer but should be someone who you trust to do the right thing for you.
There are two types of EPA:
1 An EPA in relation to property covers your money and assets, you can choose whether this comes into effect before you lose mental capacity or after. You can appoint more than one attorney to deal with your property matters and specify if they must agree on all decisions and act jointly or if any of them can act alone (severally).
2 An EPA in relation to personal care and welfare covers your health, accommodation and associated care decisions and only comes into effect if a medical professional or the Court decides you have become “mentally incapable”. You can only appoint one attorney in relation to personal care and welfare.
You decide if the powers you have given to your attorney(s) apply to all aspects of the above matters or only parts. There are some areas such as marriage, divorce, adoption or refusing life-saving medical treatment that your attorney has no power over. Your attorney’s responsibility is to act in your best interests and they must involve you in decisions as much as you are able.
If you become incapacitated and have not signed an EPA, then the alternative is to get an order from the Court. The Judge will not necessarily know who you rely on and who you trust to look after things for you. They will be reliant on information provided to them from your family and friends.
Now is the time to start thinking about having EPAs prepared as you never know what tomorrow may bring. If you would like to find out more about this please contact the team at TODD & WALKER Law.
Written by Molly Beauchamp, Registered Legal Executive