Power of attorney is a legal device in Ireland that can be set up by a person (the donor) during his/her life when he/she is in good mental health. It allows another specially appointed person (the attorney) to take actions on the donor’s behalf if he/she is absent, abroad or incapacitated through illness. The relevant legislation is the Powers of Attorney Act 1996 and the Enduring Powers of Attorney Regulations 1996 (SI No. 196/1996) as amended by SI No. 287/1996.
If someone in Ireland is mentally incapacitated (for example, because of illness, disability or a progressive degenerative illness), all of their assets and property are normally frozen and cannot be used by anyone else unless they are jointly owned or, someone has power of attorney to deal with their property or money.
In a larger sense, power of attorney is just one of the legal arrangements that you can make during your lifetime, in the event you become incapacitated or unable to deal with your affairs. Information to help guide you in recording and registering your preferences in the event of emergency, serious illness or death is available at Thinkahead.ie, where you can also download the Think Ahead Form (pdf). Read more about the legal arrangements in the event of incapacity here.