Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOAs) allow you to appoint someone to manage and make decisions about your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. They are very important should anything happen to one spouse (such as a sudden illness or injury) meaning they cannot make decisions for themselves. Many people assume that their spouse would automatically have rights to manage their affairs as the next of kin should anything happen.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and unless you have Enduring Powers of Attorney in place, managing the financial affairs becomes complex, time consuming and expensive.

If there is no EPOA in place and one spouse loses capacity, if the other spouse wants to be able to make decisions and act on behalf of the other spouse in relation to property and other assets, they need to apply to the Family Court to be appointed as a Property Manager for the incapacitated spouse.  This can be a lengthy and expensive process taking many months. 

There are also further obligations that the Property Manager has to comply with including filing financial statements at the beginning of the managership and annually thereafter. 

If each spouse is appointed under an EPOA it would not be necessary to apply to the Court and the additional obligations and expenses referred to above would not arise.

There are two types of EPOA; one in relation to property and the other in relation to personal care and welfare (medical and care decisions).  It is generally recommended that you put both in place, so that your affairs are well taken care of.

EPOAs are an important thing to consider making, or updating, at the time you purchase and/or sell a property.

In order for the EPOAs to become legally valid, you will need to obtain legal advice about the nature and effect of the documents before signing, and your lawyer or legal advisor must complete a witnessing and certification section.  If this part is not completed, the EPOAs will not be legally valid.

As with any legal documents, it is best to see your lawyer or legal advisor, who can assist you with making EPOAs that best suit your situation.