Do you have an Enduring Power of Attorney?
What would happen if you were incapable of looking after your own affairs?
The Enduring Power of Attorney is a much underestimated document but just as essential, if not more important, as having a will.
What is the difference between a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney?
A General Power of Attorney is usually used in a business context. It can authorise someone (known as your attorney) to do anything you are legally entitled to do. It may limit the extent to which your attorney may deal with those matters. However, a General Power of Attorney does not operate when you lose capacity to make decisions.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a legal document authorising another person, such as a trusted friend or relative, to act on your behalf to handle your affairs. The Enduring Power of Attorney can not only allow someone to handle your affairs if you go overseas or take an extended holiday like a general power of attorney, it will continue to operate if you lose the capacity to make a decision which can occur if you suffer an accident, are in extremely poor health, or reach an age when you need greater assistance.
While a will operates on your death, a Power of Attorney operates during your lifetime. It’s a very important document to have. If you don’t have one you are taking the risk that if you lose your ability to make decisions your financial affairs may be handled by a government department or institutional trustee for a fee.
It’s important to discuss this with your solicitor as they will be able to offer advice as to what sort of person would make a good attorney and the important things you should be thinking about when making an EPOA. Making the wrong choice could leave you open to financial abuse or family discord.
With conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s on the rise an EPOA is something we all should have. Knowing you have an attorney capable of dealing with your affairs when you are absent, very ill or mentally incapacitated gives you peace of mind.