The wisdom of putting enduring powers of attorney in place early

Jim and Betty were an energetic retired couple enjoying their golden years. They had good health and enough money to enjoy holidays and interesting outings together. They loved to spend time with their adult children and their little grandchildren.

Jim and Betty knew the importance of having their personal affairs in order. They reviewed their Wills every few years to ensure that they were still up-to-date, and if any changes were needed, they visited their family solicitor to arrange this. On these occasions their solicitor talked to them about Enduring Powers of Attorney. He explained that one type of EPA relates to Property and that the other relates to Personal Care and Welfare. These allow a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity for whatever reason in the future. Jim and Betty agreed with their solicitor that Enduring Powers of Attorney were very important – for elderly people! They just didn’t feel old enough to be thinking about Enduring Powers of Attorney quite yet, so they decided to sort them out in a few more years. They were in great health and couldn’t imagine a time when they would not be able to make their own decisions.

Sadly, a few years later ill health struck both Jim and Betty, and they were no longer able to enjoy the independence they once had. Their daughter helped them to visit their solicitor to talk again about putting Enduring Powers of Attorney in place. The solicitor explained that it was his duty to ensure that Jim and Betty had sufficient mental capacity to grant the EPAs. He requested letters of opinion from Jim and Betty’s geriatrician as to capacity. The letters indicated that both Jim and Betty were now showing evidence of “cognitive impairment which may impact on their insight and judgement”. Jim and Betty’s solicitor concluded that Jim and Betty no longer had sufficient capacity to be able to grant an Enduring Power of Attorney.  Jim and Betty’s family were left in the unfortunate position of having to apply to the Court for an appointment so that they could deal with Jim and Betty’s affairs and make personal decisions on their behalf for the rest of their lifetime.

Jim and Betty’s family had learned the hard way that if you delay putting Enduring Powers of Attorney in place until you need them, it is often too late. It is wise to put Enduring Powers of Attorney in place early – before you think you need them.

If you need to put your Enduring Powers of Attorney in place, please contact us for good legal service that will give you peace of mind.