It can be difficult to think about a time when you might not be able to manage your own finances or legal decisions. However, it is important to consider how much worse the situation may be if you had a serious accident, stroke and dementia without sorting it first. Without appointing a power of attorney, relatives can’t access your money, even if it is to pay for your care.
Due to this, it is important to be prepared by nominating someone to take control of your affairs. This is called a Power of Attorney and comprises of a legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone to act on their behalf and administer their affairs. This will only come into force when you can no longer make important decisions.
Types of Powers of Attorney
In Northern Ireland, there are two types of Power of Attorney available:
- General Power of Attorney (GPA)
- Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
If you want to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs for a certain period of time, you can give them General Power of Attorney. This may be required if you have a physical illness, have a physical injury as a result of an accident or are going abroad for a long period of time. However, a General Power of Attorney is not always the right choice as it can’t be continued if you lose your mental capacity. It should not be used if:
- You are worried you may develop a health problem
- You have been diagnosed with a health problem that will result in mental incapacity
- You want to appoint someone to attend to your affairs if you lose your mental capacity
Under these circumstances, it is more appropriate to give them an Enduring Power of Attorney.
An EPA must be set up and registered before it’s needed and you (the donor) must be capable of making your own decisions when the document is signed. Once registered, the EPA can be used at any time and can be tailored in terms of the powers granted and restrictions placed on your attorney(s). It can apply to all property or can be restricted to certain assets, such as bank accounts.
This document grants a great deal of discretion and authority over your assets and so, it is vital that you choose people you can trust to act in your best interests.
Rights and Limitations
As previously discussed, you have the right to tailor the powers granted and restrictions placed on the appointed attorney(s). You do not have to give your attorney full power over all of your affairs. For instance, you may want them to handle your money but exclude the sale of your house from their power. When considering the range of powers you wish you give your attorney, we would recommend seeking legal advice. At H McPartland and Sons, our experienced solicitors will be able to provide support and guidance in relation to your individual situation.
Contact our offices in Lurgan or Lisburn today to have a chat with a member of our team and find out how we can help you grant a power of attorney. Additionally, we will help you ensure that you carefully consider what rights and limitations you want to give your attorney. Our solicitors are familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices.