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Managing your affairs and enduring power of attorney

There may come a time when, because you are incapable of managing your property and financial affairs, you will need someone to do this for you. You can formally appoint a friend, relative or professional to hold a Power of Attorney that will allow them to act on your behalf.  

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving someone else the authority to take actions or make decisions on your behalf.  It enables you to choose a person/ or people (called an attorney) to deal with your property and affairs. A Power of Attorney ceases when you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs, but an Enduring Power of Attorney will continue.

It is important to remember that mental incapacity can happen to anyone at anytime, for example - by accident or through illness.

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.

When can an Enduring Power of Attorney be made?

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.

How do I appoint an attorney?  

You should seek legal advice as careful consideration should be given to the range of powers you wish to give your attorney.

Can I limit my attorney's power over my affairs?

Yes, you can limit the power to certain parts of your affairs, for example, you may wish them to handle your money but you might want to leave out the power to sell your house.

When does the power take effect?  

It takes 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 at any time?

Yes, you can cancel or amend the Enduring Power of Attorney at any time while you are mentally capable. For example if the attorney you have chosen dies or becomes incapable or no longer wishes to act on your behalf you will need to appoint a new attorney.

What happens if 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.

Who can I contact to make further enquiries?

Any solicitor can provide advice and the Office of Care and Protection can give general guidance. Enquiries can be made in person, by telephone or by post to:

The Office of Care and Protection
Room 2.2A, Second Floor
Royal Courts of Justice
Chichester Street
Belfast  BT1 3JF
Telephone 028 9072 4733
Fax 028 9032 2782

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