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What is Power of Attorney

Lacking the ability to make decisions and losing your independence are difficult enough to contemplate either for yourself, close family or friends. What if someone else will be managing your affairs when you die which is not in your best interests? Learn how a Power of Attorney can protect your family and yourself before it’s too late.

If a Power of Attorney is not in place, then the consequences can be both costly and stressful if decisions about your affairs are decided by the Court. The Court may not grant your spouse, family or friends with a satisfactory outcome that it’s in your best interests

So we will enlighten you about What a Power of Attorney means, and perhaps how it’s important to consider at the same time as writing your will. You may not need it today and be well, but it’s not about being bleak but sensible so you plan and protect your future.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal written document whereby an adult (known as a donor or grantor) permits a person(s) to take on the responsibility of dealing with their affairs, if they are unable to make decisions or no longer wish to.

You can appoint different people to take on the responsibility of purely managing your finances (pay your bills, purchase food, collect your pension) and/ your Health and Well-Being (medication, food) etc. These responsibilities fall under the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice 2005.

The person who takes on this responsibility is known as an ‘Attorney’ and can be family, friend or you can employ a Solicitor

Different types of Power of Attorney

There are two types of Power of Attorneys which you can progress, depending on your circumstances and it’s always good to take legal advice given its importance:

  • Ordinary/General Power of Attorney:

This focuses on looking after your financial and property associated affairs. You may still be able to make decisions for yourself (have Mental Capacity) though are unable to do certain routine tasks which could be due to mobility issues, a long term stay in hospital or perhaps residing out of the country.
The person who is designated to Ordinary Power of Attorney will act on your behalf on these matters, and if needed a time frame can be assigned to how long they take on this duty to ensure you money is safe and you have what you require.

  • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):

If you are deemed not to have Mental Capacity, according to the Mental Capacity Act 2015, or no longer wish to manage your own affairs then the LPA may be useful. There are two types of LPA and you can designate the same or different people to be responsible for them:

  • Financial Affairs: This will delegate decisions to your Attorney about anything related to finances, savings, paying bills, collecting income i.e. pensions, buying or selling property, for instance.
  • Health and Personal Welfare: This will include any decisions to be made about medical treatment, ’life sustaining treatment’, care provision, residence of the donor and daily food and nutrition.

Prior to October 2017, you may have an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney; which is still valid but was subsequently replaced by LPAs, though it’s worth checking what protection if gives you with a Solicitor.

When is a Power of Attorney needed?

Thinking about whether a Power of Attorney if right for you to consider now or later, is no different to writing your will as it’s about having something in place for the future even if it’s not currently needed – sound planning. May be worth speaking with a Solicitor to write both at the same time.

Many people don’t realise that a living relative, perhaps a spouse or civil partner, doesn’t automatically have the right to manage their partner’s affair if they are no longer able to and the Court intervenes.

These scenarios may be one of the many imminent reasons for considering a Power of Attorney but it’s wise not to wait as mentioned already:

  • A health condition which is deteriorating or likely to become worse at some stage and may affect your mental capacity and / ability to support yourself on a day to day basis with your personal care and responsibilities.
  • Long term residence or work has moved outside of the country.
  • Deemed not to have Mental Capacity.
  • Temporary or long-term stay in hospital.
  • Unable to leave your property due to health or mobility problems.

Bear in mind that if you don’t have a Power of Attorney and at some stage it’s needed, then it could be open to either abuse, or misconstrued due to the interpretation of the Courts a well as being costly and timely. You may for instance need access to funds to support your partner with day to day medical costs and care, and timing may be crucial.

How much does it cost to set up a Power of Attorney?

You can apply for a Power of Attorney by downloading the forms online, at a cost of £82 per form though bear in mind that costs can be incurred if there are amendments.

It’s always worth obtaining the advice of a Solicitor if you decide to go down this route as it can be complicated and there is a lot at stake if it’s not done correctly.

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