What is an Enduring Power of Attorney (and do I need one)?
Creating an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) gives you an opportunity to have someone you know and trust handle your affairs and property if you are unable to manage your own affairs while you are alive. The attorney must be over the age of 20 and of sound mind.
- The role and obligations of an attorney is defined in legislation and these include:
- To always promote your best interests in any decision they make on your behalf;
- To encourage you to maintain or develop your own competence to manage your own affairs;
- To consult any other attorneys or persons named by you; and
- To always act in good faith and apply reasonable care.
There are two types of EPA – an EPA in relation to property and an EPA in relation to your personal care and welfare.
EPA in relation to property
Your property includes everything you own. You may elect to have one or more attorneys act on your behalf. You can appoint attorneys jointly or as successors to each other. You can limit what property your attorney can act in respect of and restrict their powers if you wish. You can also define whether your attorney can use your property for their own benefit or name others that your property is to be used for the benefit of, such as family members or your favourite charities.
This power is vested in your attorney either when you become mentally incapable or immediately – it is your choice.
EPA in relation to personal care and welfare
Your attorney may only act on your behalf if you become mentally incapable. Your mental incapacity must be certified by a medical practitioner. For this EPA you may only name one person as an attorney although you may name a successor if your first attorney is unwilling or unable to act.
Revoking an EPA
You can revoke or change your EPA to remove or replace an attorney as your circumstances change (provided you still of sound mind).
Do I need EPAs?
There are some very important reasons to have an EPA for both property and personal care. Should something happen to you tomorrow, do your loved ones know how you would want your assets to be managed? Or, if you were unable to speak for yourself do your loved ones know how you would want to be medically treated?
The simple act of creating EPAs can lessen the burden on your loved ones in what can be an already very difficult time.