This section contains information on powers of attorney in Northern Ireland. For information on other UK jurisdictions, read our articles onor , as appropriate.
At any stage in life people can become unable to manage their own affairs for a variety of reasons. They may be incapacitated by an accident, ill-health or the onset of mental illness. This makes the paying of bills, the managing of financial decisions and other important everyday routines difficult and in some cases impossible. It is therefore important to consider appointing an attorney under an enduring power of attorney before such an event occurs.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is the formal authority under which a person gives authority to another to act on their behalf. For a power of attorney to be valid, it must be signed as a deed by the person giving the power (known as the 'donor') and those receiving the power (known as the attorneys) and witnessed by an independent witness. There is no requirement for general powers of attorney to be registered apart from in the case of an enduring power of attorney (EPA). EPAs are discussed in our '' and ' ' sections.
A copy that is certified as being a true copy of the original power of attorney by the person who gave it is proper proof of the original document.
Why is a power of attorney useful?
Generally speaking, it is worth planning ahead. General powers of attorney are very useful when you are unable to attend to your affairs because you're on holiday, for instance. When someone becomes incapable of managing their affairs any longer, it can be a very difficult time for them, their family and friends. From both a practical and financial point of view, it makes sense to consider appointing an attorney under an EPA before that day arrives. Once someone has become unable to manage, they cannot validly appoint an attorney.
Family and friends do not automatically have the right to take over. The EPA has been created to ensure that whilst you are of sound mind you can choose who you want to look after your affairs, should that become necessary at some point in the future.
If you have already made a Will, then an EPA will compliment this and help to reassure both you and your family that you have made detailed plans for the future.