As part of the ASK – A Solicitor Knows initiative, The Law Society of Northern Ireland has launched a new social media campaign highlighting some of the legal services offered by solicitors in Northern Ireland. In support of that, Gary Patterson from McKinty and Wright’s Property and Commercial Department provides a brief overview on the benefits of having an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An EPA is a legal document that is used by an individual to appoint someone else to act on their behalf in the event of them losing the capacity to do so. An EPA covers a situation where a person becomes incapable of looking after their own affairs, for example, as a result of a medical condition or following an accident. An EPA can be general in relation to all of your property or affairs or it can be restricted to specific assets. It can be qualified or made conditional depending on your specific requirements.
Who should have an EPA?
Everyone should have an EPA irrespective of their means or marital status. The document needs to be signed when a person has full mental capacity, so it is better to act sooner rather than later.
What happens without an EPA?
If an EPA is not put in place and a person subsequently loses capacity, their family and dependents will not be able to operate bank accounts on their behalf without the specific permission of the High Court. A Controllership application would need to be made to the Court and this can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise at a time when the person losing capacity needs more care and attention than ever.
If you have not already made a Will or an Enduring Power of Attorney, you should take steps to have these documents put in place as soon as possible.