Posted on Jan 26, 2018 in Private Client by Graeme Dickson
Graeme Dickson from our Private Client team discusses the benefits of having a Power of Attorney and why it's an important task you should consider for 2018.
We are now almost at the end of January. How are those Resolutions going? Every new year a whole host of resolutions are made: ‘new year, new me’; ‘I will go to the gym’; ‘I will stick to that diet’; the list goes on. Often resolutions revolve around physical health but what about considering your mental health? We all want 2018 to be a good year; to make and act on positive decisions but what happens if for physical or mental health reasons we can’t make those decisions or take actions ourselves? What if we need help from relatives or friends? Will they have the necessary legal authority to act?
To avoid the need for interventions by a court (which can be expensive, complex and time consuming), a Power of Attorney is vital document to have in place.
Right now you might be thinking you are not old enough to have a Power of Attorney, but Powers of Attorney are not just for when you are older or have a condition affecting your mental abilities like dementia. They can be used, for example, if you are unwell and just need someone to carry out an instruction for you. You would keep control and your attorney can simply carry out your requests. Or what if you have an accident and couldn’t make decisions for a period of time? Your attorney can make sure your finances keep running as normal and would be able to make any decisions that are needed about your welfare (only if you were unable to make these decisions yourself).
Powers of Attorney are like an insurance policy – we hope they aren’t needed but they are there just in case – and as with insurance it is better to put one in place sooner rather than later. If you don’t have a Power of Attorney in place and someone unexpectedly needs to act on your behalf your family or friends would need to go through a process of Guardianship, a process where a Court decides who can make decisions for you. Not only is this a more expensive route but it is also far more time consuming which could cause delays in somebody being able to act for you. It can also mean that the Guardian only gets granted much more limited powers than the wider scope you could have granted under a Power of Attorney. By having a Power of Attorney in place it is there and ready to be used as soon as it is needed.
I’ve had a Power of Attorney for myself since my mid 20s and (hopefully) remain fit in body and mind! But last year I hurt my back and knee quite badly and was laid up for a while after surgery. Having the Power of Attorney meant I knew that my Attorney had the power to do things on my behalf if needed while I was unable to do them and that was big relief.
If getting a Power of Attorney is on your list, it’s a resolution worth keeping and we would be delighted to help. If it wasn’t on your list, there’s always time to add it. It’s a straightforward process and means you can tick off another important task to be done in 2018.
Graeme Dickson is a member of our Private Client Department. Should you require any further information on Powers of Attorney please contact Graeme on 01334 477107 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any member of the Private Client Team.