Get Your Enduring Powers of Attorney Sorted Out

Having an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is as vital as making sure you have a Will. Whether you’re 18 or 80 years old, you never know when you may need to have a responsible person to make decisions on your behalf.

What is an EPA?

An EPA is a set of two legal documents, one for personal care and welfare, and the other for property. They appoint an attorney to act on your behalf to carry out your wishes at times when you may lack the mental capacity to do so yourself or, in the case of property matters, at your discretion. Lack of mental capacity can be caused by, for example, a brain injury, an accident, or a medical condition such as a stroke or Alzheimer’s.

It’s important that you appoint someone you trust, and who understands you, to be your attorney. It can be difficult to talk about, but you should consult with your family about your EPAs so that everyone knows what to do if you become unwell and can’t manage your affairs by yourself.

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Would you do this for your father’s money?

Protecting the elderly

Using an enduring power of attorney

People often find themselves looking after someone else’s money or property under an enduring power of attorney (EPA) but they are unsure what they are supposed to do. A recent High Court decision (1) demonstrates the risks of ignoring the strict duties which are imposed. Although this is an actual case the names have been changed for privacy reasons.

powerofattorney

Arnold was getting on a bit. His wife had died, one of his two sons had died also and Arnold was no longer able to live alone. Arnold had signed an EPA appointing his surviving son, Bert, as his property attorney. The High Court judge who heard this case explained what happened next:

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Parallel Trusts: Could be the best option for you

With the growth of multiple relationships and blended families many couples are having to consider ways to ringfence assets and protect inheritances. One option is to establish parallel trusts – so you each have your own trust for your share of the assets.

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Duties of an Attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney

bribery for justice

Often people agree to accept the appointment as an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) without really understanding what’s involved and what will be expected of them.

An attorney under an EPA is similar to a trustee or an executor. The person giving you power of attorney is placing trust in you to do the right thing. The law expects you to act selflessly in the interests of the person whose property or welfare you are looking after.

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Latest EJ Update

The latest EJ newsletter the EJ Update is available here. The latest Fineprint is available here.

This EJ Update includes information about:

  • The ‘Legal Warrant of Fitness’ a new and simple survey that ensures that your personal and business affairs are up-to-date
  • Changes to witnessing of enduring power of attorney documents
  • The Government’s proposal to do away with gift duty
  • Changes to the definition of ‘beneficiary income’