What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document which gives a trusted individuals the ability to act on your behalf, in the event that you become mentally incapable of making important decisions for yourself, for example, if you are diagnosed with dementia or suffer brain damage as the result of an accident.
The donor (the person who has made the EPA) was able to leave detailed instructions as to exactly which aspects of their financial affairs you would take on, although they would always be expected to act in your best interest. This type of Power of Attorney was specifically aimed at financial management, so there was no capacity for an attorney to make medical decisions on the behalf of the donor.
What is the difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced with the Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney in 2007, meaning you can no longer make a new EPA. The Lasting Power of Attorney document is far more flexible and the major difference is that there are two distinct Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) documents available; Property and Financial and Health and Welfare. They can be taken independently of each other, or you can use both.
The Health and Welfare LPA gives the chosen Attorney power to make medical and personal care decisions on your behalf, should you lose the mental capacity to do so yourself. The Property and Financial LPA deals with managing your affairs relating to finances and your estate, similarly to the function the EPA would have performed previously.
Another benefit of the LPA is that it offers greater flexibility with regards to who you may appoint as Attorneys. You have the option to select multiple people, perhaps if you would prefer to keep your property and financial affairs separate, or you can require that two people make joint decisions on your behalf. You can also appoint replacement Attorneys, in the event that those originally chosen should die, or become unable to act on your behalf for whatever reason.
Finally, an LPA offers greater protection. An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used, whereas an EPA is only registered by the Attorney when you lose mental capacity.
Can I still use my Enduring Power of Attorney?
If you have an Enduring Power of Attorney that was signed prior to October 1st 2007, it can still be used. As the donor, you would need to give permission for the EPA to be registered with the office of the public guardian on your behalf by your Attorney, or if it has already been registered, it would also remain valid.
Should I change my Enduring Power of Attorney to a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Provided you still have mental capacity you can cancel your existing EPA and set up an LPA instead.
Perhaps the most prominent benefit of changing your EPA to an LPA is the added security that your health and welfare needs will be considered, on top of your financial affairs. If you have an illness that you know will lead to eventual mental incapacity it can be important that you have someone that you trust acting in the best interest of your health.
Depending on your preferences with regards to the management of your affairs if / or when you should lose the capacity to do so yourself, it’s important to seek advice from a professional in this area, like ourselves, to have the peace of mind that you will be fully protected.
Have I left it too late to grant a Power of Attorney?
When you made a Lasting Power of Attorney, you need to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian. The registration process usually takes up to 20 weeks, but so long as you have signed it before you begin to lose mental capacity, you or your attorney can register the document on your behalf. As long as you are still fully mentally capable of making decisions for yourself when you decide to grant Power of Attorney, it’s not too late to start the process.
How can Expression Wills help me with my Power of Attorney?
Here at Expression Wills, we specialise in Lasting Power of Attorney advice, so we can help you to explore this important process. Based on your individual circumstances, we can help you to make the best use of your LPAs and advise you how to consider who would perform the Attorney roles for you. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
Why Expression Wills
Claire has been really helpful throughout the process. She was particularly supportive in helping us decide who to appoint as guardians and trustees and gave us lots of insightful information to help us make the right decision for our family. We have been really happy with the service and would highly recommend Expression Wills.
I used Expression wills to take out my first will, Claire was very knowledgeable and the process was effortless. I would highly recommend Claire and Expression wills to anyone who needed a will.
Had wills completed for myself and my partner, we were already stressed as this was in the middle of our house purchase/sale but Claire made the whole process a breeze. Very informative and helpful every step of the way. Would definitely recommend to anybody thinking of getting a will done