Why you should set up a Power of AttorneyA power of attorney is vital for anyone – regardless of age. It protects your assets and ensures someone can act in your best interest in terms of financial and/or healthcare choices, should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. POAs at some point in your life may protect your financial and property interests, your welfare, and even your manner of dying. If you are incapacitated and have an attorney designated to take control, your family will be saved costs and stress at what will be a difficult time. Relatives can’t simply access your money, even to pay for your care, without a POA. Unless you have a POA, loved ones would need to apply through the Court of Protection. This is a costly and drawn–out process. Choosing someone to be your power of attorney ensures that you have a plan in place for your future financial and personal affairs. A POA is especially important for people living together as cohabiting partners because you are not treated in the same way as civil partners and spouses. A spouse/civil partner will always have the authority to act as next of kin, unlike cohabiting partners. This is particularly important in the event of health and welfare decisions.
When to Set Up a Power of AttorneyThe sooner the better. Donors have to set up a power of attorney for themselves. It’s too late to set up a POA after something happens, because the Donor must have the legal mental capacity to put it in place. This gives you more control over how your financial and personal welfare will be looked after should the need ever arise. You never know what will happen in the future. You could be young and involved in a motor accident, receive a serious injury while playing sports or live to a ripe old age and perhaps suffer a stroke. There are also many milestones when a POA should be considered. This includes childbirth, surgery, or even choosing a risky career. The most common conditions that could cause you to lose mental capacity include stroke, coma, delirium, concussion, severe mental health problems, neuro-disability/brain injury, alcohol and drug misuse, and forms of dementia. Donors have to set up a power of attorney for themselves. It’s too late after something happens and you lose mental capacity. This gives you more control over how your financial and personal welfare will be looked after should the need ever arise.
What does a Property and Financial Affairs POA cover?Under a Property and Financial affairs agreement, the attorney can act for the donor if requested before mental capacity is lost such as:
- collect any benefits or pension
- pay bills and sort out tax issues
- manage a bank or building society account, or insurance
- buy and sell investments
- sell the donor home
- give gifts for example for birthdays and weddings.
- conduct legal proceedings on behalf of the donor
What can a Health and Welfare POA cover?This POA does not come into force until the donor has lost mental capacity. An attorney may have to make decisions about:
- moving into a care home or being looked after at home
- medical care, including life-sustaining treatment
- daily routine, such as washing, dressing and eating.