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What is an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)? Part 1

By Barry McCaul, Partner at McGale Kelly & Co., Solicitors

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a document every adult in Northern Ireland should have, yet only a small percentage actually do.

There may come a time when you are mentally incapable of managing your property and financial affairs, and will need someone to make very important decisions for you.

That is why it is so important to take action through an EPA and formally appoint your spouse, a trusted friend, a relative or a professional to allow them to act on your behalf should you lose mental capacity.

In a later blog I will discuss how to choose these people, but first lets look at the key points of why it is so important to take those few minutes of your time to appoint an EPA today.

Through an EPA, if you lose capacity, the person or persons you have appointed, will be able to take this document and manage your affairs just like you did in relation to property, bank accounts, investments etc.

For example if someone in middle age has a brain injury or stroke, their loved ones will be able to take this EPA document and make important decisions on your behalf.

As a solicitors practice we also see how important an EPA is for those later in life who may suffer from alzheimer’s, dementia or other incapacitating illnesses. It removes so much stress from loved ones who are trying to look after your financial affairs on your behalf and make important decisions about your welfare.

Without it, this process can be a lot more complicated, time consuming and costly.

If you lose mental capacity and have not signed an EPA then very often an application to the High Court’s Office of Care and Protection will have to be made to be have someone appointed to act on your behalf and manage your affairs. This is known as a Controllership application and the appointed person is known as your Controller. This is often a very difficult, lengthy and costly process and the Office of Care and Protection has very stringent supervisory powers in the management of your affairs.

Whereas if someone already has an EPA in place, the management of your affairs it is much more straightforward.

This is one of the most inexpensive legal documents, yet is vitally important and can save you a lot of stress, time and money in the future.

You shouldn’t be paying more that £75 to £100 to have this document created. A small price to pay for peace of mind.

They are for everyone and can be a game changer in times of need, giving your loved ones the authority to act on your behalf.

Please take note, an EPA is not a Will. It is important to remember that mental incapacity can happen to anyone at any time, for example, by accident or through illness.

For further information please give me a call on 02882243621 or email: barry@mcgalekelly.co.uk.

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