We believe that we cannot overemphasise the importance of granting a Power of Attorney.
If you would like to instruct us to prepare a Power of Attorney for you, or just find out more about them, please contact a member of our team or complete our online enquiry form.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a written document giving someone else authority to take actions or make decisions on your behalf. You choose the person you want to help you, called an Attorney, and decide what powers your Attorney should have.
You can give your Attorney the authority to make decisions relating to your financial and property affairs and also your personal welfare.
A Power of Attorney lets you decide now who you would want to look after your financial affairs and safeguard your welfare if the day came that you were not able to do so yourself.
Why should I grant a Power of Attorney?
The purpose of granting a Power of Attorney is to ensure that, should you ever become unwell and unable to manage your day-to-day finances, or become incapable of making decisions about your personal welfare, your interests will continue to be protected by the person, or persons, you have chosen.
What would happen if I did not have a Power of Attorney?
If you become unwell and unable to manage your day-to-day finances, your bank and other organisations will not accept instructions from anyone who has not been legally authorised to act on your behalf. Your family or friends may have to go to court to get the authority to help you.
The same applies if you become incapable of making decisions about your personal welfare.
The court procedure can be time consuming and expensive.
If the person authorised to act on your behalf has been appointed by court rather than by Power of Attorney, there can also be continuing annual costs of accounting to the Office of the Public Guardian and compulsory insurance premiums.
When should I grant a Power of Attorney?
In our view the sooner you grant a Power of Attorney, the better. We hope that, once you grant a Power of Attorney, it may not need to be used for many years to come. However, often people do not realise that a Power of Attorney would have been helpful until it is too late. Once someone has lost capacity, through illness or injury, it is too late to grant a Power of Attorney and court procedure may need to be used. You can only grant a Power of Attorney when you are capable of understanding its nature and extent.
I'm far too young to think about this….
People will often not consider granting a Power of Attorney until they are older. However, many people will have a Will drawn up when they are quite young and have, perhaps, bought a house or are starting a family. They want to ensure that, should anything happen to them, their wishes would be carried out and life will be made as easy as possible for the family or friends they leave behind.
It is worth considering a Power of Attorney for the same reasons. Should you lose capacity, a Power of Attorney can ensure that your family will be able to easily take over management of your affairs and make any urgent and long-term decisions about your welfare.
How do I grant a Power of Attorney?
Our Private Client Team has a great deal of experience in preparing Powers of Attorney for clients and also using them once they are set up. We are happy to advise you on every step of the process.
A member of our team will meet with you to take your instructions and will draft a Power of Attorney to meet your needs.
Once you have confirmed that you are satisfied with your draft Power of Attorney, a further meeting will be arranged so that you can sign the final version and the certificate attached to it, stating that you are capable of understanding the document, can be signed by one of our solicitors or, in some cases, a doctor.
The Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used, even if you are still capable of doing things for yourself.
We usually recommend that your Power of Attorney is registered as soon as possible, although it is up to you to decide. Registering the Power of Attorney does not mean that it will be used straight away. We will keep the registered document in our strongroom until it is required. By registering the Power of Attorney at an early stage we ensure that, should you lose your capacity suddenly, it can be accessed quickly.
What will you need me to decide?
We will discuss the Power of Attorney in detail with you. A couple of things for you to consider are:
What kinds of powers would you like to include?
You can include powers to do with money or property only (called a Continuing Power of Attorney) or just decisions about your health or personal welfare (called a Welfare Power of Attorney) or both. We normally recommend granting both sets of powers in the same document and there is no additional cost in doing so.
Who do you wish to appoint as your attorney?
You can appoint whoever you want (subject to certain limited restrictions). Your Attorneys could be a family member or friend, a solicitor or accountant, or a combination of any of these. The important thing is that you have complete trust in the person (or people) you appoint.
You can appoint someone to deal with your financial matters and someone different to deal with your personal welfare.
We usually suggest that you appoint at least two joint Attorneys or a substitute Attorney. This way, you will still be protected if something happens to one of your Attorneys.