You've been selected as an attorney for an EPA - what you need to know
Enduring Powers of attorney (EPAs) are legal documents that appoint someone to make important decisions on behalf of someone else.
There are two kinds of EPA:
Can be for a fixed period or in place until revoked and can be more than one person. A property attorney can come into effect before someone loses their mental capacity as and when it's convenient. Property attorneys will deal with finances and personal assets.
Otherwise referred to as a "Personal Care EPA", deals with your health, wellbeing, accommodation and other personal decisions that someone may not be able to make for themselves once they've lost mental capacity.
Being selected as someone's enduring power of attorney is an ultimate act of trust. Before taking on the role of someone's enduring power of attorney, you should consider the following:
Being an attorney for someone can become a time-consuming process depending on their circumstances. There may be application processes, financial responsibilities and sometimes an emotional toll to commit to when accepting the role of attorney. You need to be sure you're able to dedicate yourself to these.
Certain tasks such as applying for rest home subsidies or ACC claims can require a level of legal and financial literacy as well as high organisation. You need to be sure that you'll be able to carry these out yourself or be able to seek professional assistance (attorneys can seek legal and financial advice where required).
If it ever gets to the point that your actions on behalf of your donor are contested in court, you need to have proper written records of all choices you’ve made with proof that you’ve always acted in good faith and in the donor’s best interests.
If you live and work in a different town or country than the person who selected you as their attorney, you’ll need to consider your ability to visit often or commit yourself to being physically at their disposal depending on the situation. It is not a legal requirement for an attorney to be physically near the donor at all times but depending on circumstances it may be helpful.
If a person loses capacity and doesn’t have an EPA in place, this may then require an application to the Family Court under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act to have a Property Manager and/or Welfare Guardian to be appointed to deal with matters. The cost of this usually far outweighs the cost associated with appointing an EPA.
It’s considered an honour to be appointed as someone’s attorney – it signals a relationship of trust and respect. Having an EPA in place will give you and your loved ones peace of mind, especially in the case of something unexpected happening.
Find out more about EPAs, the different types, how they work and why they’re important.
Creating your EPA document:
You can easily start the process of creating your EPA online, by making an account and following the steps.