Enduring Powers of Attorney - why they can be a good idea
EPAs - for land and financial matters during your lifetime
An EPA is a formal document which gives another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding financial matters and land dealings in Western Australia. As each State has different EPA requirements, if you own land in other States or move to another State, you should consider signing an EPA which meets that particular State’s requirements. An EPA is a really useful document should you ever become mentally incapacitated or if you are absent for extended periods of time (such as overseas travel or for FIFO workers), as the EPA enables you to specify who is to be in control of your financial affairs. It can also be a really useful document during times of physical incapacity such as a lengthy recovery from surgery.
The person or people you appoint to act for you under your EPA are called “Attorneys”. You can appoint up to two Attorneys to act for you at a time. You can also nominate one or two substitute Attorneys to replace the original Attorneys should they not be able to take on (or continue) the role when needed. This can be anyone you trust who has full legal capacity, is aged at least 18 old and who has not been declared bankrupt. If you have more than one Attorney, they can act “jointly” or “jointly and severally”. “Jointly” means they must act together. If they can’t agree, the act doesn’t proceed. This can be a really good check-and-balance on your Attorneys to make sure that they make proper decisions in your best interests. It can also give them the assurance of a second opinion with the other Attorney when making any decisions for you. “Jointly and severally” means that the Attorneys can act together or can act on their own. This can be helpful where your Attorneys require flexibility. Your EPA can be made to come into effect immediately upon signing or only once you have been declared mentally incapacitated. An immediate EPA can be helpful for those who work away for long periods of time, whereas an incapacity-only EPA gives you the reassurance of having an EPA in place for when it’s needed, but also doesn’t allow your Attorneys to make decisions for you whilst you are capable of making your own decisions. It is also important to remember that the EPA comes to an end when you die. It is not uncommon to find that Attorneys are still relying on the power that comes from the EPA after the person who signed the EPA (the Donor) has died. This is improper. Once you die, the EPA immediately ends and your Will, if you have one, comes into effect. It is important to remember that it is when you lose capacity that you really need an EPA and it is at that time, that you will no longer have the ability to make one. We can help you with your EPA needs. We prepare Enduring Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Guardianship and Advance Health Directives for a fixed fee. If you're interested in having any of these documents prepared, don't hesitate to contact us at Sommerville Legal to make an appointment.