Powers of Attorney
Have you ever wondered who would look after your affairs if you weren’t able to?
Who would pay your bills, look after your bank accounts and deal with your home? Who would make decisions about your personal care if you weren’t able to communicate your wishes? An Enduring Power of Attorney operates to give a person or persons of your choice the right to act legally on your behalf in respect of these matters.
Without this document, the selected person wishing to make legal decisions on your behalf must apply to the Court under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1998 (‘PPPR Act’). This process takes time, is expensive, and may result in the appointment of an attorney that you would otherwise not have chosen. Not to mention that your wishes may not be known and therefore won’t be able to be followed. This can be prevented if you let Wakefields Lawyers help assist you and your attorney put together your EPAs, for both your property and your personal care and welfare.
Appointing an attorney places significant power and responsibility on that person’s shoulders. It is vital that you choose someone who is capable and willing to perform the tasks required. Most importantly your attorney must be someone that you trust to handle your affairs.
EPA in relation to property
An EPA in relation to property allows the appointed attorney to make legal decisions in respect of your property (i.e. your land, houses, shares, bank accounts and all other possessions and debts). You may also wish for the EPA to have effect immediately (i.e. while you are still capable as well as after you lose mental capacity) or only upon the loss of your mental capacity. Depending on your circumstances, an attorney may need to sell property, obtain a mortgage, pay for your medical care and/or manage your business, so it is not a document that should be entered into lightly.
EPA in relation personal care & welfare
An EPA in relation to personal care & welfare allows the appointed attorney to make legal decisions in respect of your personal care, but only after you have lost your mental capacity. Despite entering into an EPA in relation to personal care & welfare, the law does place some restrictions on the attorney. For instance, they cannot enter into marriage or adoption on your behalf or refuse medical treatment intended to save your life.
Because the powers conferred on the appointed attorney are so significant, there are a number of safeguards that have been provided for in the PPPR Act to ensure that the powers are not abused. These include:
- Strict requirements are to be met to establish the loss of mental capacity. You may specify in your EPA which medical practitioner you wish to establish the loss of mental capacity.
- The PPPR Act requires an attorney to promote your best interests as paramount.
- More than one attorney may be appointed to act either jointly or separately in respect of an EPA in relation to property. NB: Only one attorney may be appointed for an EPA in relation to personal care & welfare.
- You may require an attorney to consult with or provide information to other named persons before making their decisions.