A Power of Attorney grants someone else permission to make decisions about your finances and property, as well as your health and personal welfare. It is vitally important that you have a Power of Attorney in place. Here are six reasons why you should have one.
Anything can happen to you at any time
It is often thought that having a Power of Attorney is only necessary if you are retired, elderly or have a long-term illness. This is not the case. The reality is that you cannot predict what may happen in the future, so it is very much a case of the earlier, the better. Even if you are in the prime of your youth or have never experienced any health problems at all, a Power of Attorney is an important safeguard that you may have to rely on when you least expect. An example that we give to our clients is that if you were to end up in a hospital, doctors would not be obliged to give out any information about the condition of your health to anyone other than an appointed Attorney. At Blackadders we recommend to our clients that anyone aged 30 years or over should have a Power of Attorney.
A Will is NOT a Power of Attorney
A common misconception is that having a Will means that you do not need a Power of Attorney. The reality is that having a Will only dictates how your estate will be dealt with upon your death. It has no bearing on critical welfare and financial decisions that would require to be made during your life if you were unable to make them yourself. A Power of Attorney gives powers to those that you trust to make welfare and financial decisions on your behalf.
It saves disagreements and financial issues
If you have a Power of Attorney, your wishes will be clear. There will be no dubiety and your family and friends will be able to do as you would wish. This means that there is no room for argument or disagreement amongst family members or friends as to who should act on your behalf. In addition to this, if spouses do not have joint bank accounts and one spouse loses capacity, having a Power of Attorney in place will allow the other spouse to access their finances to continue to pay bills and other living costs.
A Power of Attorney saves time and money
If you are married or in a civil partnership, you might assume that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with your finances and make decisions regarding your health. This is not the case. If you do not grant a Power of Attorney while you still have the capacity to do so, a court order is required to give someone the authority to act on your behalf. This is called the Guardianship process. The cost of applying to have a guardian appointed is in the thousands and can take up to 12 months or even longer.
The power is in your hands
One of the most important reasons to have a Power of Attorney is that it means you decide who your Attorney(s) should be. Without a Power of Attorney, the court decides who is suitable to be your guardian.
It makes things easier for your loved ones
As I have discussed, your family or friends would have to apply to the court to have a guardian appointed to act on your behalf. In the event that you did lose capacity, lengthy and costly court procedure would likely be a very distressing and emotional experience for your family to go through. Having a Power of Attorney in place would make it much easier for your loved ones to make decisions on your behalf in the way that you would want.
If you require any further information with regards to a Power of Attorney, or to make an appointment, please contact the Blackadders Private Client Team.