Power of attorney - do you need one?

June 4, 2024
minute read
What is a power of attorney?

It is a document, where you appoint people to act in your interests if you are not able to do so yourself (i.e you are in an accident).  

There are a number of different types of power of attorney:

  1. Lasting power of attorney (LPA) for Financial and Property affairs. 
  2. Lasting power of attorney (LPA) for Health and well being

These both come into effect if you lose mental capacity

  1. Ordinary power of attorney - where you can temporarily give someone the ability to look after financial affairs, and have the mental capacity to do so. 

In this article the Lasting Power of Attorney is the main focus as this becomes more relevant as you age. 

Why should I arrange a power of attorney?

Before the dawn of covid this was more commonly completed as people got older, but as we have seen over the last 2 years, sudden illness can befall anyone and the having one in place will:

  1. Reduce complexity:   if something happens you will have appointed someone you trust to look after your affairs. If you do not have one the courts will decide, this can take time and especially complicated if you live in the same household. 
  2. Safeguard your partner:  If you are married or have a partner they do not automatically get access to your bank accounts and  may not be able to act on your behalf with utility or mortgage providers, unless these are joint accounts.
  3. Peace of mind: If you wait until a power of attorney is needed, it can take the office of public guardian some time to grant one, with delays due to covid this time increased to 20 weeks, usual time is around 9 weeks.
  4. Ensuring you get the care you want: If you want an LPA for health, your appointed representative will be able to decide: where you should live, your medical care, who you should have contact with, what kind of social activities you should take part in. You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about medical treatments.
When should I get a power of attorney?

Although there is no harm in having a power of attorney set up well in advance of needing it, you also do not want to have the cost and administration time of changing it, if you change your power of attorney appointee, therefore listed below are the life events that should trigger you to do complete one.

As soon as you have any assets which could include; property, savings, pension, jewellery, car, art, especially if you share a home or bills with someone and you do not have joint accounts. 

Do it whilst you are healthy or at the beginning of a diagnoses, when you are very ill it is harder and maybe impossible, if you are deemed not to have mental capacity.  During the pandemic the time it had started to take to get a register power of attorney was over 20 weeks, this is a lot of time to be left unable to access assets or advise on medical procedures.


Share this article