Why should you should have a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document giving somebody else the power to take decisions and deal with your affairs on your behalf.
So why have a Power of Attorney?
Continuing Power of Attorney
A Continuing Power of Attorney – which is what most people mean when they ask about Powers of Attorney – is a particular type of document which must comply with stringent regulations and is given the backing of statutory protections.
It is called a Continuing Power of Attorney because the provisions continue even if the granter loses the capability of making those decisions or acting on their own behalf through, for example, ill health.
A good idea for all adults – not just the elderly
None of us knows what the future may bring and, although most people’s idea of a Continuing Power of Attorney is that it is designed for the elderly, that need not be the case.
They are most commonly granted by elderly people who feel that their capabilities are beginning to diminish or perhaps have the early symptoms of dementia. These granters of Powers of Attorney have the reassurance that they are appointing somebody they know and trust to be their Attorney – someone who will be able to help them and look after their best interests in a way that the granter would wish.
An insurance policy against fate
However, not everyone has the luxury of advance warning that a Power of Attorney might be a good idea for them.
Anyone can suffer a sudden illness or an accident which affects their capabilities.
If you are one of the younger generation, you may wish to view a Power of Attorney as an insurance policy against fate. The Power of Attorney can be used immediately and this might be useful if, for example, you work offshore. Most younger people leave it to one side until the granter is at a stage – for whatever reason – that they need the assistance.
Financial and welfare powers can be given
If you are having a Power of Attorney prepared with a view to covering possible incapacity due to ill-health or accident in the future, you will probably also wish to include welfare powers.
These include power to determine, for example, where a person lives and what medical treatment they receive. Such powers can only be exercised by the Attorney if the granter has lost the capability of making those decisions on their own behalf. Your Doctor would confirm whether or not that is the case.
Procedure for making and registering a power of attorney
The procedure of granting a Power of Attorney involves having the deed signed in front of an authorised person who is normally a solicitor but can also be a medical practitioner.
That person needs to certify that the granter is capable of understanding the deed and their certification is registered along with the Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland.
The Public Guardian issues an official copy of the Power of Attorney document and it is that official version which Banks and other financial institutions – and the medical and welfare authorities – will wish to see.
The Power of Attorney remains valid unless it is recalled (which involves a similar procedure of certification by an authorised person) or the granter dies.
There are other ways that a person can receive help if they become incapable but those procedures involve the expense of a Court application and the person who is appointed may not be the person that you would have chosen to help you.
It’s not just us recommending it …
Money advice expert, Martin Lewis, covered Powers of Attorney on his ITV programme in January 2015.
He revealed that he has a Power of Attorney in place.
The programme contained some interesting case studies about the benefits of Powers of Attorney and the difficulties families can face if one is not put in place in time.
You can find an article on our website – Why Every Adult Should Have A Power Of Attorney – which summarises the Martin Lewis television report.
Contact us for further information
Get in touch with us for a free initial chat, without obligation, if you have any questions in relation to Powers of Attorney.