“I’m perfectly capable”. “I can manage, don’t worry”. I don’t need a Power of Attorney.
None of us likes to think that there will come a time when we cannot manage our own affairs. Despite reminders from our families, it is not always easy to admit that we may require a little help.
Contrary to popular belief, should you lose capacity for any reason and be unable to attend to your own affairs, your family cannot simply step in and take control for you. There would require to be an Attorney appointed by way of a Power of Attorney in order for someone to make decisions on your behalf.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to look after your best interests during your lifetime should you become incapable.
You can appoint more than one Attorney and you can state in the document whether they are to act independently or jointly. There are three types of attorney;
- a continuing attorney (who deals solely with financial affairs);
- a welfare attorney (who deals solely with welfare matters) and
- a combined attorney (who deals with both financial and welfare matters).
Having the document in place before you lose capacity is essential, as you would be unable to grant a Power of Attorney if you were considered to be incapable. Instead, it may then become necessary to undertake a court process to have a Guardian appointed to look after your affairs. The Guardianship process is an often lengthy, not to mention costly, process and having a Power of Attorney in place means you wouldn’t have to go to court.
Who can be my Attorney?
You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 to be your attorney. It should be someone you trust completely and believe will act in your best interests. You can appoint more than one Attorney and even have different attorneys to attend to each of your financial and welfare matters.
Which type of Power of Attorney do I need?
Deciding upon which type of Power of Attorney document you wish to put in place is purely a decision for you. Most people choose to opt for a Combined Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney, as this allows your Attorney to deal with both financial and welfare matters. Wide ranging powers are usually included to allow your Attorney to deal with most eventualities. However, what specific powers you wish to grant are entirely a matter of you and should be stated in the document.
You can also specify in the document when these powers should become effective; for instance, on the registering of the document or at the onset of incapacity.
No one can predict the future. However, some sensible planning by putting a Power of Attorney in place will ensure that your affairs can be managed in the event that you are no longer capable of attending to your own affairs.
Should you wish to discuss putting a Power of Attorney in place, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client team who would be more than happy to help.