Power of Attorney in Northern Ireland
Think about this for a moment:
There are many types of Power of Attorney, and each comes with specific requirements. There’s the ‘General Power’, which can be used for any financial decision.
There is also a Durable Power of Attorney that allows you to appoint someone else to make all your financial decisions in the event where you’re not able to do so yourself due to illness or incapacity.
We’ll take a look at some common mistakes people often make when setting up Power of Attorney; such as appointing somebody who doesn’t have authority over their affairs (a person under 16), giving away too much control by assigning someone full powers – without limiting those powers (giving them carte blanche to do whatever they want with your money) – or appointing somebody who is not trustworthy.
While you cannot get a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney in Northern Ireland1, there are other ways to provide for the person’s care.
It might seem easy enough, but errors happen all too often, so please read this article carefully before setting up any Power of Attorney!
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
An Enduring Power of Attorney appoints someone to manage a person’s property and finances after 18. This Power of Attorney can be set up by the person assigning it but needs to have two people sign for it to become a Durable Power.
An EPA lasts until the appointee decides that they want or need to stop managing somebody’s property and finances – this might happen if they are no longer able to handle it.
EPA can be set up for any person over the age of 18, and there are no limits on how much money or property someone may have when setting it up. It applies to assets in Northern Ireland only, so if you own properties in England, then this power will not use!
On the other hand,
An EPA is valid even after a change in relationship, for example, when an appointee becomes the spouse of someone they manage property and finances for.
The EPA can also cover any care needs that a person may have in Northern Ireland- this will allow their Power of Attorney holder to make decisions on behalf of them about where they live or how they should be cared for if needed. This type is called “caring” EPA because it covers both financial and health aspects.
An EPA can also be used as protection against abuse; by setting up an appointment with two other people signing overpower then the power would not need to be changed every time one party changes relationships (for instance, becoming married) – instead only the connection which has been agreed upon as changing would need updating.
General Power of Attorney (GPA)
You can make someone your General Power of Attorney so they can take care of many, or all, aspects of your financial affairs or legal affairs if you are unable to do so. You can also appoint someone as your GPO to manage all or part of the property for you.
The person acting on behalf of an individual who has made themselves a general power attorney is known as their agent. They have complete control over those affairs – including managing assets (subject to any limitations set out in the legal document).
But it would help if you always took legal advice from your attorney. The General Power does not cover daily tasks such as looking after children or caring for older people, but it could be used to decide where a pensioner should live.
How To Set Up an Enduring Power of Attorney
Setting up an Enduring Power of Attorney in Northern Ireland is straightforward. You can do it online, by post, or in person – you will need to provide evidence of your identity and confirm that you are not under any mental disability.
You choose whether to appoint an agent who is a lawyer or someone who isn’t: for personal reasons, many people choose their spouse or partner as their GPO, but this might not be possible if they’re abroad on long-term business travel.
The Power of Attorney document should specify what levels of power the agent has over different assets, e.g., financial decision making only, residential decisions only, etc. This means that when choosing where to live, your agent would consult with both you and others involved (such as carers) before making a final decision.
If you want to appoint an attorney in Northern Ireland, the first thing you need to do is make sure that they have limited powers. This means limiting what your Power of Attorney will allow them to do with your money and estate before appointing them. You should not include any clauses about giving away too much control (e.g., by having a clause that says “may manage my property as he or she sees fit” – this gives complete power over everything). Nor should you give someone full capabilities without setting limits on these rules (i.e., saying “administer all my assets”).
If possible, it’s best if two people are involved: one who has been assigned the ‘General Power,’ while the other appointed person has had their power limited to ‘Special Power.’
Using an Enduring Power of Attorney
Using an Enduring Power of Attorney is an effective way of ensuring that someone else can manage your affairs if you cannot do so. It’s also a good idea to prevent any problems with the law, as there is often difficulty in determining what incapacitation means – whether physical or mental.
Your Power of Attorney should not include clauses about giving away too much control (e.g., by having a clause which says “may manage my property as he or she sees fit” – this gives complete power over everything) nor should you give someone full capabilities without setting limits on these rules (i.e., saying “administer all my assets”).
If possible, it’s best if two people are involved: one assigned the ‘General Power,’ while the other has been given the ‘Special Power.’
This type of document is not necessarily designed to have a specific person in mind. Instead, it should be thought of as someone who can take care of your affairs if you cannot do so – whether that’s due to physical or mental incapacity. It may seem like an unusual thing for most people to think about, but it can be hugely beneficial for those who want peace of mind.
What if your loved one lacks mental capacity?
The Mental Capacity Act of 20052 aims to protect people who lack mental capacity from being unable to make decisions for themselves. This piece of legislation defines that the person has the “ability to understand information, retain it and use it.”
Section 16 says: “A person may not be treated as having sufficient capacity in relation to any matter by reason only of…being able to make a decision on an appropriate course of action” if they don’t have the ability or knowledge required for such a task.
Let me tell you something,
Suppose you want your loved one’s Power of Attorney document written so they can handle everything. In that case, you should include this within your proposal – but otherwise, you must assign limits (e.g., “make all investment decisions”). It is essential for the person who has Power of Attorney to know what they are legally allowed and cannot do.
How Much Does Power of Attorney Cost in Northern Ireland?
Applications for Power of Attorney in Northern Ireland are free. It can cost you money if you decide to have a lawyer draft your Power of Attorney agreement, but this will be negotiated with the lawyer’s firm.
What Is the Process for Power of Attorney Applications in Northern Ireland?
The process for applications is straightforward and can easily be done without legal counsel or any other third-party intervention. Your Power of Attorney document must be witnessed by two adults who are not related to you. You then need to file the Power of Attorney document with the office clerk in your council area for registration.
How Long Does Power of Attorney Last in Northern Ireland?
Power of Attorney lasts until revoked or nullified by a court order, as long as it is registered with the correct authorities before changes in circumstance.
Does Lasting Power of Attorney Apply in Northern Ireland?
No, Power of Attorney is not permanent in Northern Ireland. You can use it without fear of it being revoked or nullified by a court order, as long as the Power of Attorney is registered with the appropriate authorities.
Making Power of Attorney in Northern Ireland is a good step to take if you want someone else to make decisions for you in the event that your mental capacity wavers. Power of Attorney is not permanent in Northern Ireland, but you only need to register it with the appropriate authorities.