What is an enduring power of attorney, and do I need one?

What is an enduring power of attorney, and do I need one?

An enduring power of attorney (“EPA”) is an important legal tool that allows you to designate someone—known as an 'attorney'—to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself, typically due to mental incapacity. The focus of an EPA is primarily on your financial and legal affairs.

Key Features of an EPA include

  • Scope of authority - your appointed attorney gains the power to handle your finances, including bank transactions, bill payments, asset management, and legal obligations.
  • Activation timing - you can choose when the EPA takes effect, either immediately upon signing or only after you become incapacitated.
  • Revocability - you can revoke or amend your EPA as long as you are mentally competent. Consulting a legal professional for any changes is recommended. 

So, do you need an EPA? Absolutely. It's an essential component of a well-rounded estate plan, providing safeguards for unexpected life events while giving you peace of mind, such as: 

  • Incapacity protection - without an EPA, your family might have to seek court-appointed guardianship, which can be both time-consuming and costly.
  • Peace of mind - you can rest easy knowing a trusted individual is in place to manage your affairs should you be unable to do so.
  • Flexibility – the EPA can be tailored to your needs, specifying the conditions under which it becomes active.
  • Estate planning - an EPA complements other legal documents like wills or trusts, ensuring a comprehensive approach to estate management.
  • Trusted decision-making – the person you appoint in your EPA should be someone you trust implicitly. This ensures that your affairs will be managed competently and in accordance with your wishes.

In summary, an Enduring Power of Attorney is not just a legal formality but an important element in your overall estate planning. It empowers someone you trust to handle your financial and legal affairs, providing invaluable safeguards for unexpected life events. By having a well-crafted EPA, you can gain peace of mind, protect your family from legal complexities, and ensure that your financial and personal wishes are honoured even when you're unable to make those decisions yourself.