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16 June 2015

Public Must Be Provided With Choice Of Powers Of Attorney

 The Law Society of Northern Ireland has said that proposals contained within the Mental Capacity Bill to abolish Enduring Powers of Attorney may adversely impact on the public particularly the most vulnerable, the elderly and the infirm. 

The Society made their comments as part of a briefing to MLAs and invited guests at the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday morning.An Ad Hoc Committee made up of MLAs from Health and Justice are considering evidence in respect of the Mental Capacity Bill at the Assembly.

The Bill provides for the introduction of two different Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) covering firstly, property and affairs and secondly, health and welfare.The Society welcomes the provision of the additional powers granted by these LPAs. However the Society concerned about the abolition of the existing Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). 

An EPA is the legal authorisation to act on someone else's behalf in a legal or business matter. It gives the attorney the power to dispose of property, deal with financial affairs, sign documents and make purchases on behalf of the individual if they become ill or unable to make decisions about their finances. 

They are affordable and easy to complete.Under proposals outlined in the Bill the DOJ/DHSSPS are considering implementing LPAs in Northern Ireland despite the evidence from their introduction in England suggesting that they are much more complex and costly.The Society is concerned that this complexity and cost will put the public off making these Powers and they should have the choice of the LPA or the cheaper EPA.

Commenting the President of Law Society, Arleen Elliott said:

 “The Law Society welcomed the opportunity to raise our concerns with the MLA’s and members of the Ad Hoc Committee at our briefing event at the Assembly. We reiterated that the Law Society particularly welcomes the introduction of LPAs as these cover health and welfare issues but we maintain that the public must be provided with options when planning for their future which are affordable and suitable for their needs”. 

From left to right

Alastair Ross, MLA, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, Mary Murnaghan, Council member of the Law Society, Arleen Elliott, President of the Law Society, Alban Maginness MLA and Brian Speers, Council member of the Law Society





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