Managing your affairs and enduring power of attorney…
A time may come when you are no longer capable of managing your property or financial affairs.
You will need someone to do this for you. You can appoint someone to hold a Power of Attorney that will allow them to act on your behalf.
This can be a friend, relative or even a professional.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is actually a legal document.
It gives someone else the authority to take actions or make decisions on your behalf.
You choose a person or people to deal with your property and affairs – called an Attorney.
A Power of Attorney will cease when you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs but an Enduring Power of Attorney will continue.
It is so important to remember that mental incapacity can happen to anyone at any time, for example – by accident or through illness.
The date on which the Enduring Power of Attorney comes into effect will depend on whether you have put any restrictions or conditions in the Enduring Power of Attorney.
For example, you may have made it clear that the attorney(s) cannot act until you become mentally incapable or until the Enduring Power has been registered by the court.
If there are no restrictions or conditions, the powers of the attorney(s) start as soon as the attorney(s) have signed the Enduring Power of Attorney.
Making an Enduring Power of Attorney
You can grant the power at any time provided you are over 18 years of age and mentally capable of understanding what an Enduring Power of Attorney is.
An EPA has the same status as an Ordinary power of attorney.
The difference is that an Ordinary power of attorney becomes invalid if you become unable to manage your finances.
An EPA remains effective, provided the necessary steps are taken to register the EPA with the Office of Care and Protection (OCP).
Appointing an attorney
You should seek legal advice as careful consideration should be given to the range of powers you wish to give your attorney.
You can limit the power to certain parts of your affairs, and it is important to take proper advice.
It will take effect as soon as the attorney signs unless you have included any conditions or restrictions about when the power should begin.
Can I change my mind?
You can cancel or amend the Enduring Power of Attorney at any time while you are mentally capable.
You may need to change your attorney if they die or become incapable – they may also change their minds and decide they don’t want to act on your behalf.
What happens when I become mentally incapable?
To become effective, all Enduring Powers of Attorney need to be registered with the High Court (Office of Care and Protection) but registration is not required until the point where your attorney believes you are no longer capable of managing your affairs.
If your attorney has reason in the future to believe that you are becoming mentally incapable of managing your affairs they will have to apply to the High Court (Office of Care and Protection) for registration of this power.
You will receive notification of the attorney’s application to the court.
The court may question the attorney’s handling of your affairs and may cancel his power at any time if it is not satisfied that the attorney is acting in your best interests.
I want to know more
Any solicitor can provide advice or you can contact the Office of Care and Protection for more general guidance.The Office of Care and Protection Room 2.02, First Floor Royal Courts of Justice Chichester Street Belfast BT1 3JF
Or telephone: 0300 200 7812