What would you want to happen if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself? Are your wishes for your personal care and welfare known? Will your property be protected and looked after? Here, we look at Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) and what you need to know.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document that gives someone of your choice the power to act for you, should you lose the ability to make your own decisions.
People over 18 years of age should have an EPA, whether young or old. It’s important to have this sorted while you’re still mentally capable of getting this in place.
Types of EPAs
There are two types of EPAs:
Personal care and welfare EPA
You can appoint one 'attorney' (or more than one) for your property. Your attorney/s can act for you on your instructions as soon as your EPA is activated.
Sometimes a qualified health practitioner may need to assess whether you are still able to make decisions yourself. From that point onwards, your attorney will have the power to act for you. As an alternative to your EPA being activated straight away, you can opt to have your EPA only come into effect if the health practitioner confirms it needs to happen.
Your attorney can do things like managing your bank accounts, paying your bills, or buying and selling your property on your behalf.
Without an EPA, no one else can deal with your property or financial affairs on your behalf without a court order. Even your immediate family or partner or spouse may need to go to court to get this power. Not having an EPA can cause loved ones stress and financial burden so it’s important to have this in place.
Personal care and welfare
Only one attorney can be appointed for your personal care and welfare. This EPA is only activated once you are assessed as not being able to care for yourself. This type of attorney can make decisions about things like medical treatment.
Choosing an attorney
An attorney should be someone you trust. You can appoint the attorney for both types of EPA, or choose someone different for each EPA. If you have the same person for both EPA, each power needs to be granted specifically and separately. There is the opportunity to be clear about where the rights can be applied.
For both personal care and welfare and for property, a successor attorney can be appointed, who will become your attorney if the first person can’t act as your attorney, for example if they have died or are incapacitated. Your attorney has to consult us as much as they can when they are making decisions for you.
Creating an EPA
You need independent legal advice to create an EPA. You also need to have the documents witnessed by a lawyer, qualified legal executive or representative of a trustee corporation.
We can help you set up your EPAs. We often see clients setting them up at the same time as making or updating their will, as it’s a convenient time to sort it all at the same time.
If you’d like to know more about setting up your EPAs, get in touch with us for expert legal advice.