We all take it for granted that we can make our own decisions about the issues that affect our lives. However, we can lose that capacity to make our own decisions. Alzheimer’s, Dementia and failing health are just some of the increasingly common scenarios.   Dementia affects more than 48 million people around the world and is fast becoming a major health challenge, with the numbers suffering from it expected to double every 20 years.

There is hardly a family in Ireland untouched by Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

A will deals with your assets when you die. What happens if you are become mentally incapable of managing your affairs? You might be surprised to know that there is no automatic right for spouses, children, parents, or anyone else to manage your bank accounts or other assets, either for your use or the use of your family. Your will cannot give these powers (as your will only takes effect as and from your death). The only ways that somebody can be appointed to take care of you are:

1. An application for Wardship – becoming a Ward of Court, or
2. Registering your previously existing valid Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”)

Wardship – Becoming a Ward of Court
This is the only option if you have not made an EPA. Somebody must apply to the Wards of Court Office for a Court Order to declare that you are of unsound mind and incapable of managing your own affairs. Wardship is more expensive than an Enduring Power of Attorney. It is also more restrictive than an EPA. A “Committee” (a group of people) is appointed by the Wards of Court Office. You have had no choice in who these people are. You have no say in the powers that they have. You have no voice!

Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is separate to a will.  People should have both. In the EPA you can appoint one or more attorneys (who are generally close family members) to take care of you and make decisions on your behalf in accordance with your wishes, while acting under restrictions that you have imposed.  You pick the attorney in the Enduring Power of Attorney.  You set out the conditions in the Enduring Power of Attorney.  Your voice is heard in the Enduring Power of Attorney!

Eoin O’Gorman Solicitors are very experienced and qualified in the area of Wards of Court and Enduring Powers of Attorney. This specific knowledge and skill means we can properly advise you and your loved ones about all aspects of estate planning, including making a will and making an EPA. We are experienced, professional and approachable.  We are advocating that people view EPAs as an important part of planning for their family’s future.

For more detailed advice on Enduring Powers of Attorney and Wardship please contact Eoin at 053-9140040 or at eoin@ogormansolicitors.ie to arrange a consultation.