An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is perhaps the most important document you will ever sign. This article explores the benefits of executing an EPA today and the potential dangers of putting if off until tomorrow.
An EPA allows you to choose a relative, a friend or someone you trust to manage your lifestyle and financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated or develop a disability that impairs your decision making.
Why is an EPA important?
Your EPA forms an essential part of your Estate Plan. It helps to avoid unnecessary delays and costs in the event that you become incapacitated.
Many of my clients believe that their spouse or next of kin can make decisions on their behalf if they were to lose capacity tomorrow, but this is not the case!
Appointing an attorney is the best way to give your loved ones the power to adequately care for you into old age, or in the event that tragedy strikes, or if you need something signed while you are away on holiday.
You can empower your attorney to make decision on your behalf in relation to:-
- Financial matters
An enduring power of attorney can give an attorney the power to make financial decisions for a person immediately (irrespective of whether they are incapacitated or not) or only if you are incapacitated.
- Personal and Medical matters
If you are incapacitated an EPA can authorise your attorney to:
- make personal decisions on your behalf. For example, where you live or what you eat, and
- make medical decisions for you. Fundamentally, this is the power to consent or refuse on your behalf medical treatment.
You can give your attorney as much or as little scope as you wish to make decisions in relation to these matters, and an EPA should be tailored to suit your individual values and circumstances.
The form of EPA recommended by Tetlow Legal can, if you wish, give your attorney the power to ensure that your superannuation goes to the people you intend.
If you are the director of a company, you may wish to have the company execute a Power of Attorney to ensure your business can survive and prosper after you are no longer able to manage it. There are important rules concerning such appointments by companies and it is important to seek legal advice. We would be happy to assist.
Who should I appoint as my attorney?
You should think very carefully about who to appoint as your attorney. It needs to be someone you trust absolutely to act on your behalf.
Appointing Multiple Attorneys
You may choose to appoint more than one person as your attorney and empower these people to act jointly (as a group) or separately.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all types of appointments. We would be happy to discuss these with you to find the best solution for you.
When will my EPA come into effect?
In relation to financial and property matters, an EPA can be drafted to operate immediately (even if you are fit and well). This is useful as such an EPA can empower your attorney to look after your financial matters or handle important legal documents on your behalf if, for example, you are overseas or physically housebound.
In relation to personal and medical matters the EPA will only come into effect if you are incapacitated.
It is important to remember that you can only execute an EPA while you have capacity. Once signed the appointment of an attorney will continue until it is revoked or until you die.
So prepare yourself for the unexpected by drafting an EPA, and rest assured that your family and friends will be able to step in if and when you are unable to fend for yourself.