Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document. It allows you to choose other people to make decisions on your behalf about your property and finances. The people you choose to make the decisions are called attorneys. Having an EPA allows you to plan ahead in case you become unable to make decisions yourself or are physically unable to carry out tasks.

You can only make an EPA if you are aged 18 or over and are able to understand what it means for you. This is called having mental capacity.

When you make an EPA, you share control of your finances and property with your attorney. However, you can say in your EPA that it can only become effective if you lose mental capacity. You can also restrict the power of your attorney in your EPA.

Before an EPA can be used, it needs to be registered with the Office of Care and Protection.

You can cancel your EPA at any time, as long as you still have mental capacity.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document. It allows you to choose other people to make decisions on your behalf about your property and finances. This might include paying your bills, dealing with the bank or even selling your house.

The people chosen to make decisions on your behalf are known as attorneys. You can have more than one attorney.

Having an EPA allows you to plan ahead in case:

  • you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances and property
  • you are not physically able to carry out tasks, such as visiting your bank.

These changes could happen if you suddenly have an accident or you develop a serious illness.

An example of an EPA

‘My mother Orla created an Enduring Power of Attorney when she updated her will. This meant that when she developed dementia, we were able to pay her bills and manage her finances. We made sure she was cared for at home and her home was kept as she liked it. Because we could do this, my mother was able to die peacefully in her own home, just as she wanted.’

Steve, Orla’s son


Who can make an EPA?

You can only make an EPA if you are aged 18 or over and have mental capacity.


Who can help you make an EPA?

A solicitor will help guide you through the process of making an EPA. When choosing a solicitor, it is best to ask a few to give you an estimate of their costs for making an EPA.

If you wish, you can complete your own EPA. The Office of Care and Protection can give you advice on how to do this.


Choosing when your EPA becomes effective

When you make an EPA, you share control of your financial affairs and property with your attorney. If you wish, you can state in your EPA that it can only become effective if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. Some people prefer not to do this, because they may still have mental capacity but not be physically able to manage their banking.


The power of your attorney

You can restrict the power of your attorney in your EPA. For example, you can stop them selling your house. If you have no restrictions, your attorney has power to act on your behalf over any matters relating to your property, income and finances. You can find out more about restricting the power of your attorney from a solicitor.

An EPA does not give your attorney power to make any decisions about your personal welfare or medical treatment, or to access your medical records.


Registering an EPA

Before an EPA can be used, it needs to be registered with the Office of Care and Protection. This will need to be done by your attorney when they believe you are no longer able to manage your affairs.

There is a fee to register an EPA.


Cancelling an EPA

Sometimes, a person may need to cancel their EPA. For example, you may need to do this if your attorney is no longer able to act on your behalf. You can cancel your EPA at any time, as long as you still have mental capacity. A solicitor can help you with this.

You can get more information about EPAs from your solicitor or from the Office of Care and Protection.

Back to Advance care planning in Northern Ireland

Planning ahead

Planning ahead can help people know what care you would like if you become unable to make choices yourself.

Making a will

Having an up-to-date will ensures that your wishes for who you would like to leave your estate to are guaranteed.

Your wishes for your care

When planning ahead, it is important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for.

Funeral planning

Planning your funeral in advance means your family and friends can arrange the type of funeral you would like.