For guidance on Enduring Power of Attorney, contact:
Average life expectancy in Ireland is 79 years for a man and 83 years for a woman. As a nation, we are now living up to 30 years longer than our grandparents’ generation. The majority of babies born this year will live to be 100 years old.
While this is good news, it follows that there is also an increase in certain conditions that come with old age, for example, memory loss, alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
What will happen to your care, care of dependents, possessions and financial matters if you are no longer able to make informed decisions for yourself? To prepare for this possibility, you can make an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
An EPA is a legal document that gives certain powers to a person/people appointed by you, to make decisions and act on your behalf in legal, financial and medical matters. These people are called your attorneys.
An EPA only becomes active if you become mentally incapacitated i.e. you are no longer able to make informed decisions for yourself.
In order to be able to make an EPA, you must be mentally capable of doing so. To verify this, a medical certificate from your doctor is required.
Your attorneys can be people such as your spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend - someone you trust. They only have whatever powers you give them. This can be confined to decisions in relation to personal care, rehabilitation, housing and so on, or it can encompass all personal and business matters.
An EPA allows your attorneys to use your assets for your benefit while you are alive but mentally incapacitated.
Advance Healthcare Directive
An Advance Healthcare Directive is a statement about the kind and extent of medical or surgical treatment you want in the future, on the assumption that you will not be able to make that decision at the relevant time.
People usually make such directives to limit the treatment given in order not to prolong life, for example, a Do Not Resuscitate Order. They will only be considered under the following circumstances:
- the refusal was made at a time when the patient was competent
- it covers the situation that has arisen
- the patient has not changed his/her mind.
It should also be noted that withdrawal of treatment is not the same as positive action to end life.
Sometime they are made in order to state that a person wants all possible treatments to be provided.
It is important to note that an Advance Healthcare Directive is purely that – a directive. There is no legislation in place in this country to provide for the enforcement of such documents. The Assisted Decision Making Act 2015 provides laws for these directives and was signed into law in December 2015 but has (as at April 2020) not yet been commenced.
These directives, therefore, will only be enforced if they are in keeping with the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners.
For help with making an Enduring Power or Attorney or Advance Healthcare Directive, contact us.