Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person (“the donor”) nominates and gives
legal authority to another to handle their affairs. A power of attorney allows you delegate the
management of your affairs to someone you trust. The person nominated is known as an attorney.
Donors can use their power of attorney to conduct their affairs within Ireland while they are
overseas, including operating a bank account, buying and selling property and voting at meetings.
The powers given to the attorney will depend on your specific situation and the responsibilities you
choose to entrust to them.
Types of Powers of Attorney
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is where you appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions for
you, usually for a specified period of time.
A general power of attorney does not give the attorney the power to make personal, medical or
lifestyle decisions on the donor’s behalf. An attorney’s appointment becomes invalid if the donor
loses the capacity to make their own decisions. That is, the powers granted cease as soon as the
donor is deemed mentally incompetent.
Enduring Power of Attorney
If an enduring power of attorney is signed, attorneys can be called upon to make decisions for the
donor in a situation where the donor does not have the mental capacity to make their own
decisions, i.e. if a donor is unable to understand and give legal consent to an action or arrangement. It only becomes effective when the donor loses capacity in the future.
An enduring power of attorney authorises your attorney to make general or specific financial, legal
and medical decisions for you while you are alive but only if you are unable to make these decisions.
For example, if you become mentally incapacitated or temporarily unconscious due to a brain injury,
accident or illness.
When drawing up a power of attorney, you must have the capacity to understand the implications and consequences involved in appointing an attorney. If you are unable to comprehend this, the
appointment will not be legally valid. Therefore, it is best to go through this process when you are physically and mentally healthy. Pre-empting the consequences of tragedy can help you rationally
select a suitable and trustworthy nominee, as well as give you time to revoke the appointment if you feel that it is necessary.
The law involved in drawing up a power of attorney can be complicated. It is important to take expert legal advice. Planning ahead and anticipating medical emergencies or disability may save you and your family from legal and financial burdens in the event that the unfortunate becomes reality. Thus an enduring power of attorney can help.
Arranging for a trusted and reliable relative or friend to make decisions on your behalf can give you peace of mind that your affairs will be kept in order no matter what happens.