Why a Power of Attorney is a good, flexible way of managing your life if you can’t.

Power of attorney is a legal device by which you can appoint somebody else to manage your affairs if you are unable to do it for yourself, or just to help you manage your affairs if you can only manage them to an extent yourself.

Until 2007 you could only make what's called an enduring power of attorney and anybody who did those should know they are still valid, you just can't make a new one anymore.

Those dealt only with money and property and it wasn't possible to make a power of attorney to deal with your medical decisions on welfare; things like where you should live or if you needed to go into a nursing home.

Lasting Powers of Attorney introduced…

In 2007 two sorts of powers of attorney were set up. They're both called lasting powers but one is lasting power for your property and affairs so rather like the old EPA enduring power, and the other one is a lasting power for Health and Welfare.

The beauty of these means that you can appoint the person or people that you would choose to manage your affairs if you can't do it anymore. Imagine if disaster strikes, let's say you had a stroke or can't manage your affairs maybe only for a few weeks, during that period somebody has got to keep the show on the road and the alternative to you having an attorney is that somebody will apply to the court for a deputy to be appointed.

That might be a member of the family, it might be a family solicitor, or it could be a panel deputy (there are 60 of those around the UK or England and Wales). The nice thing about a power of attorney is that you can choose for yourself and it can be a member of the family, a professional, or a combination of those if you feel that there are issues that need both.

Registering a Power of Attorney…

The way you make a power of attorney is that you fill in a form from the government website. People do get in a tangle with them as there's quite a lot of bureaucracy attached to it and you do need to make sure that you've got every I dotted and every T crossed in exactly the right place .

You have to pay a court fee for registering the power of attorney once you've made it, at the Office of the Public Guardian. The Office of the Public Guardian is there to make sure that nobody's doing what they shouldn't be doing.

Once the power is registered the attorneys can then act provided that the person who's given them that power is happy for them to make the decisions and they can't make the decisions themselves.

To the extent that a person can make their own decisions they must be allowed to do that. If they really can't make the decision then it's up to the attorney to make a decision in their best interests.

Appointing two different attorneys or more…

Quite often people will appoint different attorneys for their property and affairs. Ideally you want somebody with a good financial head on their shoulders.

From the people who might make the decisions about which nursing home they would go into, for example, it's more likely to be a close member of the family for that or should you be revived if you're in a coma with no prospect of a quality of life after being revived.

Who's going to tell the doctor what you want? That information goes into your health and wealth power of attorney. So it can be pretty extreme in what it does, but you can control how much power you give your attorneys within the document as to what decisions you'd like them to make.

You can decide whether you want one or more people to make a decision or whether you are happy just for one person to do it. You can also appoint a backup attorney, so if you appoint somebody who then dies or goes off the rails or disappears abroad or whatever, you can have a backup attorney come in and take over.

Never too young to have a power of attorney…

Everybody should have a power of attorney. People will say "oh but I'm not old enough!" Unfortunately, you and I know road accidents happen, illness happens and just because you're 21 it doesn't mean to say it's not going to happen to you.

You don't have to be wealthy either. You may have affairs that need managing, for example a young single person on benefits may not be able to cope. A power of attorney means someone can be on hand to help manage things such as council property, council tax, healthcare and social services.

The Power of Attorney document, correctly applied and registered, is a good, flexible system.

Everyone should have one and we are here to help.


Published on 13/05/2022

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