Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

Arranging Legal Paperwork

Apart from an Advance Healthcare Directive, which legally binds healthcare teams to your previously recorded treatment choices, there are other legal documents which you may choose to put in place before they are needed. Remember, an Advance Healthcare Directive does not require a solicitor. 

However, other documents do. These include writing an Enduring Power of Attorney, and naming legal guardians for your children or dependents. Writing a Will does not require a solicitor, but it is highly recommended.

Enduring Power of Attorney 

An Enduring Power of Attorney is an arrangement for how your affairs will be managed while you are living but may need additional supports.  

Within an Enduring Power of Attorney you can appoint a person, called an attorney, to make decisions as directed by you. An attorney is your agent and only has power to make decisions as directed in your Enduring Power of Attorney document. In an Enduring Power of Attorney, you give the appointed attorney the authority to make decisions about your finances, property, and personal care, as set out in your Enduring Power of Attorney document. Generally, an attorney is someone close to you, who you trust, such as a spouse, child, or sibling. 

If this is something you are considering or if would like to find out more, it’s important you do so sooner rather than later as an Enduring Power of Attorney needs to be prepared when you have capacity to do so. You will need a solicitor to guide you through this process. You will also need a statement from your GP or another healthcare provider to prove that you have capacity to make these documents. You may qualify for legal aid if you cannot afford to pay legal fees.  

The Decision Support Service also offers guidance, including templates and videos, for making an Enduring Power of Attorney arrangement. An Enduring Power of Attorney must then be registered with the Decision Support Service.

What is the difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive?

An Enduring Power of Attorney is only used to grant a person control over your finances and your personal care. An Enduring Power of Attorney is not used for healthcare matters. For healthcare decisions, a Designated Healthcare Representative, as well as an alternate, may be appointed in your Advance Healthcare Directive.

Making a Will 

A will is a legal document, signed in the presence of two witnesses that states what should happen to your estate (your assets) after you have died. It allows you to name persons (your executors) who will carry out your wishes after death. 

Whatever age you are, writing a will is the only way to make sure your wishes about your assets after your death are fulfilled. Many of us die without making a will and believe our wishes will be honoured anyway. This is not always the case. A will can make life easier to distribute your assets in the way you wish while avoiding any unnecessary taxation. If you do not make a will, the law, will decide on the distribution of your assets. 

If you would like to make a will, it is recommended that you talk to a solicitor. You can find a solicitor by checking the Law Society’s website here. Irish Hospice Foundation also offers a will writing service. Please go to A Gift in Your Will to learn more and to sign up.

This short film will explain the importance of setting up a Will. 

Naming Legal Guardians for your children or dependents 

If you are a parent who has children under the age of 18 or has someone who depends on you for care, it is advisable to make plans for your dependent’s care in the event of your untimely death. This is one step you can make to ensure the continuation of their welfare and future well-being.  

Your solicitor will guide you in making informed decisions. They will discuss your options and issues you may not have considered in relation to their continuation of care. They will also require that anyone chosen to take over the care of your dependents agree to enacting your wishes and will advise you to discuss your wishes with them. If you have more specific wishes for your dependent’s upbringing such as education or religion, it is best to record these in writing with your solicitor.

A legal guardian can be anyone who is over the age of 18, is not in prison, and is of sound mind. Remember, you can always change your mind. Doing this is a simple process with your solicitor.  

As with all your documents, review the plan every 5 years, or following major life events, such as divorce. 

Legacy Gifts

Remembering a charity in your will is a great personal kindness that continues your support of a cause you care about.

A legacy gift can be large or small and is tax free. You can choose to support one or more charities in your will and there are different ways to do this.  Your solicitor will be able to advise you, or see A Gift in Your Will for more information.