What happens if I don’t make an Enduring Power of Attorney?

If you don’t make an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in Ireland and you lose mental capacity, then your friends or family members must make a Ward of Court application instead. All welfare and financial decisions must then be approved by the court.

The purpose of an Enduring Power of Attorney

With an EPA, you can give a chosen person (or group of people) the power to make decisions on your behalf, should you ever lose mental capacity. This ensures that someone you know and trust is managing your personal and financial affairs, in the event that you become unwell.
There is a common assumption that you don’t need an EPA if you’re married or have children. Surely close family members are allowed to decide where you live, what medication you take, and collect your pension for you? Actually, they’re not. No one has the automatic right to make decisions on your behalf. The only way you can bestow these powers is by making an EPA.

What happens if you don’t make an EPA?

So, what happens if you don’t make an Enduring Power of Attorney? Well, you might never lose mental capacity, in which case, you will continue to manage your own affairs until your dying day.
However, if you do become incapacitated (perhaps due to illness, injury, old age or medication) then your assets will be frozen. At this point, the only option open to your loved ones is to make a Ward of Court application. This is a complicated and long-winded process, at the end of which you will become a Ward of Court.
The court is then responsible for your assets and well-being. It may choose to place your family members into a committee, which is tasked with managing your personal and financial affairs. Nevertheless, this committee cannot act freely. If they wish to take a particular course of action – such as selling your property – then an application must be made to the court first.

EPA vs Ward of Court

Therefore, there is a significant different between an Enduring Power of Attorney and becoming a Ward of Court.
With an EPA, you pass certain powers onto your chosen Attorneys. Unless there are safeguarding issues, there is absolutely no court intervention. Your Attorneys can immediately pick up the reins and start making decisions on your behalf, as directed by the terms of your EPA.
Without an EPA, there will be a considerable delay while your loved ones make a wardship application. This is time-consuming and expensive – much more so than making an EPA. Once you are a Ward of Court, you become the court’s responsibility. Every decision must gain the court’s approval. This makes life very awkward for your family members who cannot act with any kind of agency. Furthermore, you will not be in control of who actually manages your affairs. With an EPA, you select your own Attorneys. But when you become a Ward of Court, the court appoints a committee. This could be made up of people you never would have chosen.

Making an EPA today

The only way to avoid this unwelcome set of circumstances is to make an Enduring Power of Attorney. Your EPA may never be needed; but if it is, you will have made the necessary preparations, ensuring someone of your choosing has the power to make decisions on your behalf.
If you would like to make an Enduring Power of Attorney, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a free no obligation enquiry.

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