An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a document made by any person with full mental capacity directing who should look after their affairs if they should lose decision-making capacity at any point in the future. This action is available to everyone to allow us to plan for our own futures.
The person making the EPA is known as the donor, and the person nominated to make the future-decisions is known as the attorney.
The EPA can be made at any age, and only comes into use after a doctor certifies that the donor no longer has capacity to make their own decisions. There are safeguards in place in that the donor will have named particular people who ought to be notified if the EPA has been triggered.
The donor may nominate an attorney to deal with financial matters, personal decisions or both. The attorney is obliged to make decisions based on the values, preferences, goals, and will of the donor. The benefit of an EPA is that the donor has control over who will make decisions if they no longer can do so; the donor choses a person they trust. The donor can also speak to the attorney about their wishes and preferences for future care.
A good time to consider making an EPA is when we are making a will, when we get a troubling diagnosis or as we reach an older age. The process for creating an EPA is quite simple, and allows each one of us to plan for our own futures, and to ensure that to the greatest extent possible we can retain control over our own future.
Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Partner at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP