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It’s the time of year where a number of young people are travelling abroad without their parents or families, some for the first time. Whether it’s high school leavers taking an end of school trip or a gap year, or University graduates globe trotting before joining the world of work, young adults rightfully want to utilise their free time and take advantage of relatively cheap air travel to expand their horizons (and their Instagram feeds).

Most packing lists would consist of the following:-

  • Clothes - Check
  • Passport - Check
  • Insurance - Check
  • Boarding Passes - Check
  • Money – Check
  • Phone charger - Check
  • Power of Attorney -  Che…wait what?...

Private Client SolicitorWhat is a Power of Attorney and why would a young person need one?

Powers of Attorney are legal documents which allow a person of your choosing (such as a parent or Guardian) to make decisions about your finances or health if you are unable or unwilling to do so yourself.

Just as a married person doesn’t have automatic rights to make financial or health decisions for their husband/ wife or civil partner, neither do parents of children over 16.  A Power of Attorney is therefore the only way to ensure that a parent (or another person) has the legal authority to make financial or welfare decisions for a young adult.

Anyone over 16 can grant a Power of Attorney. There are two main types of Power of Attorney:- a Continuing Power of Attorney allows your attorney to deal with your financial affairs and a Welfare Power of Attorney appoints someone to make decisions about your health and wellbeing. A combined Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney is most common as it allows your Attorney to have both financial and welfare powers in one document.

A bit like a legal insurance policy, you hope never to have to use a POA when travelling abroad, but if you do need to, you (and your family) will be very grateful to have put in the place proper arrangements.

So, why would you need a Power of Attorney if you are going travelling? Well, it allows your chosen Attorney to look after your financial affairs whilst you are travelling – without any ramifications. For example; if you had any unpaid bills before you left, then your Attorney can ensure that they are paid for you. They can also liaise with financial institutions on your behalf if a problem arises whilst you are abroad. Also, your attorney can open, close or transfer funds from one account to another on your behalf. This could be helpful if your wallet and cards are lost or stolen whilst you are abroad.

If you have a flat which you are renting out, your attorney would be able to act on your behalf when hiring people to make repairs, collecting rent owed and, in the event that there are any issues, they would be able to instruct solicitors to act on your behalf.

If you do not have a Power of Attorney then no one will be legally permitted to deal with your financial affairs whilst you are away, which in a worst case scenario may end up cutting your travels short.

Obviously, if you were involved in an accident and needed medical attention, your Welfare Attorney could give instructions in regard to your healthcare if you were unable to make decisions yourself.

For further information on creating a Power of Attorney click here or call 08000891331 and our solicitors will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Blog by Shona Macnaughton, Private Client Solicitor

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