Most people have a Will in place to have some control over how their estate will be handled after they have passed on. But an essential document that is not always considered is the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). Read why you should have an Enduring Power of Attorney prepared now.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An EPA is a legal document that operates during your lifetime. It allows someone that you appoint to make decisions on your behalf for (a) financial matters, (b) personal and health matters, or (c) both.
Examples of financial matters may include managing your property, money or investments. You can nominate when your attorney(s) power will begin for financial matters. This may be immediately, or on a specific date or occasion.
Examples of personal and health matters may include making decisions about your living arrangements, or medical treatment. This power does not begin until you lose the capacity to make personal or health decisions for yourself.
Why prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney now?
Your EPA will give your appointed attorney(s) the power to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so, for instance, if you are overseas, too ill, or most importantly, when you have lost the capacity to make decisions yourself.
Losing the capacity to make decisions can happen at any time. It is typically due to a mental disability, an acquired brain injury, dementia, or the inability to communicate your decision.
Once you have lost the capacity to make decisions for yourself, you would have also lost the capacity to prepare an EPA, as an EPA will only be enforceable if it is prepared while you are able to understand the nature and effect of the power you are giving. This is why it is important to have your EPA prepared early, in the event that something happens which affects your ability to prepare one when you need it most.
Having an EPA in place gives you peace of mind, knowing you have appointed someone you trust to handle your affairs if you were not able to. If you do not have one in place, and you lose the capacity to have one prepared, your loved ones will need to go through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in order to have someone appointed who will make decisions on your behalf. This can be a stressful, complex, expensive and time-consuming process, which could easily be avoided.
Shanya Sahay is a Solicitor at Stephens & Tozer, undertaking work across an extensive range of legal practice areas including estate planning. If you have any queries about an Enduring Power of Attorney, or are ready to have one prepared, contact a Solicitor at Stephens & Tozer today.
11 November 2019