22nd May 2015

This blog looks at the ins and outs of a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney is a written document which authorises a trusted person or persons to manage your estate. It ensures your affairs are looked after in the event that you suffer physical or mental incapacity. This can be made on a temporary or permanent basis. It must also be noted that a Power of Attorney can be made at anytime.

If you become unable to look after your affairs due to illness, accident or old age, unless you have a signed Power of Attorney, your loved ones will not be able to access your affairs or deal with your welfare.  They may need to make an application to Court which can be awkward, time consuming and stressful.   By signing a Power of Attorney you are ensuring that if anything does happen to you in the future, those with whom you love and trust will have power to look after you  in a way that you would want.

The powers given to your attorney are two-pronged, Financial and Welfare. It is entirely feasible to grant a Financial Power of Attorney and not a Welfare Power of Attorney and vice versa. Alternatively, they can both be created at the same time.

Your Welfare Attorney will be given the power to ensure your health care is taken care of. They will have the legal authority to act for you only when one or more doctors have decided that you no longer have capacity. The Welfare Attorney will have the power to do the following:

  • Deciding on your care arrangements
  • Deciding where you should live
  • Having access to confidential information such as medical records
  • Denying or consenting to medical treatment
  • Even by making decisions on your clothes, personal appearance and diet.

Your Financial Attorney will be given wide powers to deal with all aspects of your financial estate. For instance, they will be able to open or close your bank account. Other powers include:

  • Dealing with investments
  • Making tax returns
  • Claiming and dealing with benefits
  • Settling any liabilities.

If in the form of a Continuing Power of Attorney or Welfare Power of Attorney, it will last throughout your life, provided of course that those appointed are willing and able to act as Attorney. A Power of Attorney can be made at  any time. But the earlier the better! It can also be amended by you at any time.

If you wish for a Power of Attorney to be made please do not hesitate to contact our Trust & Executries Partner, David Hewitson.