Power Of Attorney – What It Is And Why You Should Have One

The majority of people assume that they have a right to manage their spouse or other close relatives’ affairs simply by being their spouse or “next-of-kin”.  However this is not the case.  A Power of Attorney is a registered legal document which gives a nominated person or persons, the legal authority to act on your behalf.

There are three types of Powers of Attorney:

  1. Continuing Power of Attorney – this deals with financial matters and can be used when you are still able to make decisions for yourself but may simply need assistance. This will continue notwithstanding you being deemed mentally incapable of such decision-making at a later date
  2. Welfare Power of Attorney – as its name suggests, this gives the appointed attorney rights to be involved in the decisions concerning a persons’ welfare. However it is important to note that these types of powers are only valid at the point when you have been deemed mentally incapable by a suitably qualified medical professional of making decisions about your own welfare
  3. Combined Power of Attorney – this grants both the Continuing and Welfare powers into one document allowing the attorney to act in both financial and welfare matters. This is the most common type.

Granting a Power of Attorney does not mean you pass over all control of your affairs to your appointed attorney.  You should continue to manage your own affairs for as long as you are able to do so; your attorney should only step in when there is a particular need for them to do so.

To sign a Power of Attorney you must have legal capacity to do so and a solicitor or medical professional need to sign a certificate confirming this.  This is why it is important to have this in place at the earliest opportunity and not once your health has deteriorated as you may be prevented from signing the power of attorney if you lack the necessary capacity to understand the content of the document.  While most people assume that mental capacity is lost only through illness’ such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can also be the result of an accident and therefore age is not always the key factor in making sure you have this important legal document in place.  Without a Power of Attorney in place; it may be difficult for relatives to act on your behalf and may even be necessary to apply to the Court for a Guardianship Order which can be a costly, a time-consuming process and difficult for the family.

If you require any further information, please feel free to contact us here at Rollos and one of our Solicitors will be happy to chat to you about the process and answer any questions you may have.

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