How to Protect your Future from Incapacity: Power of Attorney
Enduring Power of Attorney; an Introduction
No one wants to think about a future where we may lose the mental capacity to manage our own affairs. We often assume that our partner or children will automatically be able to step in and make key decisions, however this is unfortunately not always the case due to accessibility issues. To make sure your financial affairs are taken care of properly, it’s vital you have an enduring power of attorney (EPA) in place.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney and do I need one?
An EPA is a document in which you appoint someone you trust to manage your finances, should you lose the mental capacity to do so. This person is known as your Attorney. Your Attorney will be a trusted source who can manage your financial affairs for you. This could include payment of monthly bills, nursing home fees, property management etc. You may have specific terms within your EPA that limits what your Attorney can do with your finances. You can stipulate terms your Attorney needs to abide by to ensure that your wishes are granted, if you are physically or mentally unable to express them.
An EPA is not just needed for when you are reaching a certain age, they are useful at any stage. You can tailor them to your specific needs.
For instance, parents may choose to set up EPAs to ensure that their children are cared for properly if something were to happens them- especially for children who might have special educational needs and require lifelong care.
Business owners set up EPAs if they have a certain amount of money that needs to be looked after in a certain way.
Having these legal safety nets in place means if a worst-case scenario were to happen, your finances or business will be managed by an Attorney chosen by you – in accordance with your exact wishes.
What happens if I don’t have an EPA?
With no EPA, your family members or spouse won’t be able to access or manage your financial affairs in the event of you becoming mentally incapable – without a Court Order.
Your family can apply to become a Controller on your behalf. The Controller would then be responsible for managing your financial affairs in accordance with the Court Order issued by the Office of Care of Protection. However, there are downsides to this fall back plan – the Controller may not have been your first choice and they may also be unaware of your specific business or finances.
It’s worth noting, that the Court process to appoint a Controller can be lengthy and troublesome for your family. It can equally prove difficult for your family to agree on who should apply to be a Controller. This process is often long, distressing and stressful – and completely avoided if an EPA is in place.
When should I make an EPA?
You can make an EPA at any point in time. It’s especially important to have an EPA in place if you have been diagnosed with an illness which could prevent you from managing your financial affairs in the future.
Can I appoint more than one attorney?
It’s common for people to have two – four attorneys. It’s best to have more than one in place, so that if anything were to happen to one attorney, you could still have someone you chose to act on your behalf should you need them to.
Do I need a solicitor for enduring power of attorney?
You don’t need a solicitor to create an EPA, however they are best placed to give offer you tailored advice for your circumstances. They will help you consider all your options. A solicitor will complete the forms for you and ensure that all of the necessary documents are in place.
Can I amend or cancel an EPA?
As long as you have the mental capacity to do so then you are free to cancel, revoke or amend your EPA at any time.
What are the first steps?
We specialise in guiding our clients in securing their EPA’s.
Our expert team will be able to give you the most straightforward advice you need for looking after your family, finances and business.
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