By: Susan Anderson
Enduring powers of attorney (EPA) are excellent things!

So, what exactly are they? They provide authority to someone you absolutely trust to carry out certain functions for you: to pay the monthly bills, to buy or sell property, or to make investment decisions for example.  There are also heaps of other potential uses.  Your attorney should know how you want your money and property handled.  They should stand in your shoes and do what you would normally do.

A different type of enduring power of attorney allows your attorney to help with making health decisions for you if you lack the capacity to make those decisions yourself.  In this situation your attorney will be working with your doctor.  Your attorney should understand how you would want your life handled and be your advocate if necessary.

If you are a couple, the obvious choice is to appoint each other as your attorney.  It is likely you will know each other’s wishes.  It is prudent though to have one or two back up attorneys as well, such as adult family members or other trusted people.

Completing EPAs means you get to choose the attorneys yourself and appoint those you feel will make the most appropriate decisions on your behalf.

Sometimes a person doesn’t get around to completing an EPA.  If that person loses capacity, then they cannot sign an EPA nor anything else for that matter.  There is a process to fix this, but it is substantially more expensive than simply organising EPAs with a Solicitor.  That process involves an application to the Court for a management order.

While EPAs are useful in situations of ill health or accident, they have a pivotal role where a person loses capacity.  It means anything can be dealt with promptly and any problems solved.  EPAs are also useful if a person is heading overseas and needs to leave signing authority here.  So, all in all, completing EPAs is something that should be considered by everyone as a very practical life tool.

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