We are all aware of the need to have a current Will in place that will deal with our wishes on death, but, as a nation, we continue to turn a deaf ear to the need to also have up to date Powers of Attorney.
For the uninitiated, Powers Of Attorney are living Wills. They instruct what should happen in the event we lose “capacity” – the ability to make decisions for ourselves.
With ever increasing lifespans and a rise in dementia and similar diseases, the need has never been greater for Powers Of Attorney. The latest version which came into being in 2007, the Lasting Power Of Attorney, has two elements – welfare and financial.
The welfare element gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your daily routine (washing, dressing, eating), medical care, moving into a care home and life-sustaining medical treatment. Remember, it can only be used if you’re unable to make your own decisions.
The financial part gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your money and property, including managing your bank or building society accounts, paying bills, collecting your pension or benefits and, if necessary, selling your home. Your business will also be covered. However, a separate POA can be set up specifically for business affairs as it may not be appropriate to have the same attorneys for both.
Before a Power Of Attorney can be invoked, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This can be done in advance, so that it is available whenever it is needed, or it can be done at the point the need arises (although this can cause a delay in how your situation is dealt with if you lose capacity as a result of a single unexpected event e.g. accident, stroke).
As we age, we become more concerned about “being a burden”. Correctly drawn up Powers Of Attorney won’t eliminate this burden, but they will go a long way to reducing it.
Note: We work closely with a number of solicitors and would be happy to make a recommendation