Why Do I Need Power Of Attorney – Setting up a power of attorney is vital – it allows you to make a number of important decisions about your future, your finances and your well-being. Having this means that should something unusual happen, such as an illness or accident that results in a loss of capacity, you can be satisfied that the person (or people) of your choice are making these decisions for you.
Why do you still need a POA? We caught up with Danielle Stevenson, Senior and Head of Family Law at Caritas Legal, to explain…
Why Do I Need Power Of Attorney
In Caritas Legal, the above is the main advice that the firm provides to clients who contact the firm with a question about a power of attorney. This is because many people mistakenly believe that if they have next of kin they can automatically look after your welfare and finances when in fact they cannot UNLESS there is a Power of Attorney. This legal document appoints a trusted family member, friend or spouse as your attorney and they can then make these important (and sometimes life-changing) decisions for you if required.
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If you lose capacity, even temporarily, or if you become unexpectedly ill, decisions will need to be made about your care. It is advisable to arrange a power of attorney at a time when you are in good health and can put your affairs in order. People often put off getting a power of attorney and then it’s too late. If you don’t have a power of attorney and lose capacity, a family member (spouse, child or someone you trust) would have to apply as guardian through the court process, but this is often a lengthy and stressful process.
If you have a POA in place, your welfare, well-being and finances can be looked after and managed by your legal representative. This is because your legal representative can choose where you live and can make decisions about your care or medical treatment (if hospitalized). He will only make these important decisions based on your best interest, especially since he will know and understand your wishes. A power of attorney can also empower your attorney to manage your finances, including opening and closing bank accounts if required.
Welfare power of attorney: relates to personal well-being and includes powers such as deciding where you live, what care or medical treatment you receive, or even the power to make a claim regarding your personal well-being.
Enduring Power of Attorney: relates to property and finances and includes powers such as buying or selling property, opening, closing or maintaining bank accounts or paying bills.
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Combined power of attorney: includes both social and continuing powers and is the most popular type of power of attorney.
For couples and individuals spending time abroad, a POA can be a very useful document as it can allow one (or more) individuals to handle your financial and legal affairs on your behalf in your absence. For example, a solicitor could sign property contracts on your instructions if you were outside the UK at the time.
Danielle Stevenson, senior association and head of family law at Caritas Legal, said: “There is a common misconception that when you arrange a POA you are giving up control, when in fact you still have a lot of control. In addition, at least one doctor would have to determine that you are incapacitated before it takes effect.
“You can also use a power of attorney if, for example, you can’t get to the bank to withdraw money or pay bills, perhaps because you’re not as physically fit as you once were.
How To Set Up A Lasting Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney ensures that your wishes are followed by appointing people you would like to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself while you are still able to make those decisions. Your next of kin are powerless without a power of attorney and would have to apply to the court for authority to make decisions on your behalf if you do not have this important document in place”.
Caritas Legal is an award-winning law firm that can arrange a power of attorney for you or a family member. Contact them on 01383 431 101 or [email protected] to make an appointment or find out more about Caritas legal services here.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper directly to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for just £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of printed paper as digital replicas. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you lost your mental capacity and were unable to make your own financial and social decisions? This is where a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) comes into play.
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You can name a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to. In this way, you can ensure control over your own future while reducing the risk of family conflicts.
A power of attorney helps you decide the type of care you will receive and manage your finances when you are no longer able
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is essentially a legal document that allows you, the ‘donor’, to choose one or more ‘lawyers’ to manage your affairs.
An attorney is someone you trust who you entrust to make decisions on your behalf if you lack the mental capacity or ability to do so yourself in the future.
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Despite its importance, less than 1% of people in the UK have an LPA, according to official figures.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a completely separate legal document to your Will, although many people choose to do the two at the same time and file them together.
LPA is not something only older people in poor health should consider. Unfortunately, at any age you can have an accident or illness that can temporarily or permanently debilitate you.
You must set it up while you are still mentally fit to decide to appoint someone yourself, otherwise the LPA may not be legally valid.
Four Steps To Creating Your Lasting Power Of Attorney
The old system, known as an Enduring Power of Attorney, has been replaced by an LPA. However, if you or your relative set it up before 1 October 2007, it will still be valid.
“An LPA can only be registered when you have mental capacity – once you lose capacity it’s too late.” Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter
It is a common misconception that partners or close family members automatically gain the right to make decisions on your behalf if something were to happen to you.
You can choose one type or both. If both, you will need to fill out two separate forms.
Professional Power Of Attorney Letters & Examples
A financial LPA is used to give a lawyer the power to make decisions about money and property on your behalf. These include:
The advocate will liaise with the medical and nursing staff of social services and make decisions on your behalf about your personal benefit, day-to-day routine health care and medical treatment.
You may be eligible for a reduction or exemption if your pre-tax income is less than £12,000 a year or if you receive certain means-tested benefits.
It is not a legal requirement that you use a solicitor to create a durable power of attorney, but it may be beneficial to ensure that no mistakes are made.
Durable General Power Of Attorney
An LPA is often set up together with the drafting of your Will. For more information on wills, see our guide.
Instructions on how to set up an LPA can be found on the Office of the Public Protector’s (OPG) application forms.
You can have more than one advocate and this can be a friend, family member, partner or a professional such as a solicitor. They have to:
They don’t have to live in the UK or be a British citizen, but there are a few things to consider when choosing a solicitor:
Choosing Attorneys For Your Lasting Power Of Attorney
Yes, but if you choose more than one lawyer, you must decide whether they will make financial decisions separately or jointly:
When you create an LPA, it makes sense to appoint other people to replace your existing choice if at some point they can no longer act on your behalf.
Yes, you must officially register a durable power of attorney before using it by filing an application with the Public Guardian’s Office.
You can do this yourself if you have not lost mental capacity, or a lawyer can register at any time, whether or not you have mental capacity.
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If you need help with your application, you can get a lawyer, but this will increase the cost. The Law Society has a Find a Solicitor tool on its website, but make sure you check the fees before you commit and shop around.
There is potential for abuse of power with an LPA, particularly as there are few restrictions on who can become a lawyer.
Even if a lawyer is a family member, they can be accused of misusing money or making decisions that are not in the best interest of the person they are responsible for.
Hill & Robb :: Power Of Attorney
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