Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
An EPA can be best described as “A Living Will” in effect.
It is an inexpensive plan/life policy for your needs.
We cannot predict what is in store for any of us and so having someone to take over in the event that you become incapacitated mentally, further to an illness cannot be understated. Unfortunately none of us can predict what is around the corner and so the importance of having the right person in the wings with the legal authority to act on your behalf, if you are not in a position to do so yourself, cannot not be understated.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) enables you (the ‘donor’) to choose a person you trust (called an ‘attorney’) to manage your property and affairs and/or personal care in the event of you becoming mentally incapable of doing so.
An EPA is a document that allows you to plan for the future while you are in good health. The document is executed at any time when you have full mental capacity but does not come into effect until such time you lose mental capacity to make decisions at which point the appointed attorneys register the EPA with the Wards of Court. The registration process involves filing a report showing that you lack mental capacity.
The terms of the EPA may give the attorneys either a) specific powers or b) general authority to act on your behalf in relation to your financial and business affairs and your personal care decisions.
What happens if I do not have an EPA?
If you do not have an EPA in place and you no longer have the mental capacity to manage your own affairs, your family may need to apply to make you a Ward of Court in order that your assets, properties and money are not frozen which would make it impossible for your family to access these resources unless they are jointly owned by you and that person and that other person has full authority to use the joint assets.
In such circumstances, your family may need to apply to make you a Ward of Court giving the court the power to make decisions on your behalf whereupon a judge will appoints a committee (usually a family members) to attend to your affairs. However, the person appointed may not be persons that you would prefer to fulfil the role. Also, the cost of making a person a Ward of Court is substantially greater than executing and registering an EPA.
Who can make an EPA?
Any person over the age of 18 years that has assets and has full mental capacity can make an EPA.