Enduring power of attorney
Enduring power of attorney - Northern Ireland
An enduring power of attorney gives another person (your 'attorney') the power to manage financial affairs on your behalf. This can include such things as (subject to any restrictions you make) paying bills, selling property and managing bank accounts.
If you become incapable of making financial decisions and lose the ability to manage your own affairs, this type of power of attorney 'endures' and continues in force until death, but subject to certain important conditions and safeguards. By planning ahead and making an EPA, you are able to give your instructions while you are of sound mind, in anticipation of the possibility of not being capable at some future date.
You can give a general authority which will enable your attorney(s) to act in any of your property and financial affairs, or you can give a specific authority which restricts the attorney(s) to dealing with only the certain aspects of your property and financial affairs that you specify.
You can also choose to make a number of specific authority EPA's if you want different attorney(s) to manage different specific dealings.
The EPA can't be used to give your attorney(s) the authority to act on your behalf about any decisions relating to your personal health and welfare. Attorney(s) appointed in an EPA can only make decisions about your property and financial affairs.
This may change in the future as The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 has been given Royal Assent, but is not yet operational. When it is implemented, you will be able to create 'Lasting powers of attorney' which allow you to appoint attorney(s) to make health and welfare decisions on your behalf.
Who can make an EPA?
The person who makes an enduring power of attorney to give another person (the 'attorney') the power to manage their financial affairs is called a 'donor'. Anyone can be a donor in an EPA as long as they are 18 or over and are mentally capable.
Who can be an attorney?
Anyone who is willing to act as your attorney can be an attorney in your EPA, as long as they are over the age of 18 and are not bankrupt when they sign the document. They don't have to be resident in Northern Ireland. However, if you choose an attorney who doesn't live in Northern Ireland, it might create practical problems in administering your affairs.
You can appoint as many attorneys as you would like, however, it won't be practical to have too many. You can also appoint an alternative attorney in case one of your original attorneys is unable to continue acting in their role.
When does the power come into effect?
If you have not made any restrictions in your EPA, your attorneys will be able to act on your behalf in financial matters as soon as you sign the document. You can specify in your EPA that you don't want the power to come into effect until after you have lost mental capacity. However, if you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself, the attorney(s) will lose their authority to act on your behalf until after your EPA is registered.
As soon as your attorney believes that you are losing mental capacity, they have a duty to register the document with the Office of Care and Protection. After your attorney(s) register the EPA, you can no longer cancel it ('revoke' it) without the approval of the Office of Care and Protection.
Is my attorney paid?
Attorneys are only permitted to recover out of pocket expenses from your assets, unless they are otherwise authorised by the court. If you decide to appoint a professional attorney, such as a solicitor or accountant, then they will be entitled to be paid a professional fee for the services they provide as an attorney.
Cancelling your EPA
You can cancel ('revoke') your EPA at any time while you are still mentally capable and the EPA has not been registered by your attorney(s) with the Office of Care and Protection. The best way to revoke an EPA is to sign a formal document called a 'Deed of revocation'. For more information see our article on.
If the EPA has been registered, you will need to apply for permission from the Office of Care and Protection before it can be revoked. You will need legal advice for this.
Royal Courts of Justice