What if somebody is suddenly (and let’s face it ‘suddenly’ is very common when it comes to unexpected events!) unable to deal with their own affairs? Say an accident left you unable to speak, or unable to get out of the house? What about the effects of a stroke? In an instant you are unable to sign a cheque or speak to an estate agent or bank manager or insurance agent.
So you are in a position where the funds are there to get you ‘mended', relocated or cared for, but you can’t get at them. Your signature is needed to confirm your decision! What if your parent has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia – you need to pay for their Care, and they have the funds, maybe tied up in a house – how does somebody who is mentally incapable begin to think about such ‘technicalities’?
The legally binding answer is a document called ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’ (EPA) – something that anyone over the age of 18 and mentally capable can arrange. You don’t need a Solicitor to arrange this these days; there are other competent professional services available to produce EPAs. The document enables anyone to decide who they would like to deal with their affairs for them after they become incapable. The appointed person/s (up to four) are called Attorneys – these are usually relatives of the person (the ‘Donor’) signing the document, but can be a friend or Solicitor. Attorneys can be appointed to act either jointly (all Attorneys have to act together and approve all financial transactions) or jointly and severally, which means they can act alone or together – probably the better option in most cases, as it is often difficult to get all the Attorneys together at critical times: what if one is on holiday, and can’t get back to sign a crucial document in time to allow something to happen (an accident?)?
An EPA can be a critical document – in our aging society, people who have one in place (a safe place) have an extra layer of ‘insurance’ in place for that “what if” situation that we all hope won’t happen.
The high-flying young executive gets off the plane from the States and suffers a debilitating stroke. He CAN afford expert care, and would stand a good chance of a good recovery – but all the funds that he was squirreling away for the rainy day that has suddenly arrived are in his name – nobody else can access them as quickly as he needs it to happen: a case for having an EPA in place?
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Andrew is an agent for Nation Legal Services (9954) who can be contacted FREE on 0800 328 2364