What is an enduring power of attorney?
An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf should you lose capacity. It’s different to enduring guardianship, where a guardian is appointed to manage all decision-making for the person in question. That said, it is possible for an EPA to also include guardianship provisions. So, an enduring power of attorney can be quite flexible and offer protection if or when required in financial situations.
The enduring element within a lasting legal document enables the individual over whom it has been given authority, to appoint another individual (the ‘attorney’) to make decisions on their behalf as they lose mental capacity or becomes physically impaired in some other way for whatever reason such that they cannot do so themselves without help from others e.g., if they are involved in an accident and are left incapacitated.
Issues around mental capacity are becoming more prominent and with this an increasing interest in exploring all avenues available to assist those at risk by ensuring they have appropriate plans in place now and into the future. This could include taking steps now by executing enduring powers of attorney or advance directives which provide piece of mind and security should something happen to you in the future.
So, an EPA allows you to appoint someone you trust, who you give the right to make decisions about your finances if you lose mental capacity – for example because you have an illness like dementia.
By making this arrangement in advance, and by thinking carefully about who should be appointed as your enduring power of attorney, you give yourself greater control over your future now. It’s also something that can be reassuring for friends and family members to know they can rely on if or when times get hard. Without one in place, things can become very stressful for family members, who have to apply to the court. Which can takes months to resolve.
What does the enduring power of attorney do?
The assigned EPA, can do things like pay bills, make purchases or even invest your money. Under an enduring power of attorney, the attorney takes control of some or all of your financial decisions if or when: you lose capacity to do so.
It’s not something we naturally think about when we are feeling well. However, thats why is important to consider now, so if you lose the capacity to make financial decisions, it is important to think about who trust that can help should that happen.