If you are worried about how your finances and welfare would be decided if you became incapable of managing your affairs in the future, then a sensible option is to plan ahead and grant Power of Attorney to someone you trust. You can make a Power of Attorney for financial or welfare matters – or both. A Power of Attorney is a legal document which authorises one or more people to act on your behalf.
By making a Power of Attorney you are not giving up your own authority to deal with matters; you are simply taking prudent steps to provide a solution if you need others to help in the future. It means you can be sure that your affairs will be looked after by a person you trust, who could be a family member, friend or professional person.
Under a Continuing Power of Attorney your appointed person will help deal with matters relating to your finances and property if you become incapable of doing so for any reason. This will include paying bills, opening and closing bank accounts, making sure your pension and benefits are paid to you and making decisions about your investments. Unless you state otherwise, they are entitled to make decisions on your behalf right away. However, it can be stated that they can only make decisions when you become incapable of making the decisions yourself.
With a Welfare Power of Attorney your appointed person deals with matters relating to your health and personal welfare, such as decisions about your accommodation or medical treatment. They are only ever entitled to exercise their powers if you become incapable of making decisions for yourself.
At Thorntons, our team of dedicated lawyers have considerable experience of working with families and individuals in establishing Powers of Attorney. They can advise you of the options, set up an arrangement that best serves your particular needs, and ensure completion of the proper documentation.
If you do not grant a Power of Attorney and you then become mentally or physically incapable of managing your affairs, your family may have to apply to the court for permission to deal with these matters. This is called applying for guardianship and involves a lengthy and expensive court process. Our expert team can advise and help families in such situations.
When making your Will, you may want to consider granting a Power of Attorney at the same time, as a sensible precaution against a sudden or gradual deterioration in health. We can advise you on all aspects of making a Will and make sure it is right for you and your circumstances.
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