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.
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.
It is important to note though that 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.
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.
Limiting an attorney's power over your affairs
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.
Timing for attorney's power
It takes effect as soon as the attorney signs unless you have included any conditions or restrictions about when the power should begin.
If you change your mind
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.
Becoming 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.
Find out more
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. The contact details for the office can be found at the link below: