We’re all aware that with our ageing population, cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s will rise dramatically in the coming years. We also realise that life can change in a heartbeat when people of any age suffer through accident or illness. If you want to protect your family from the devastation caused by loss of mental capacity, you need to create a Power of Attorney now.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is simply a legal document you sign now, appointing someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself at any point in the future.
Unfortunately, without a POA in place, the law does not allow a relative or a loved one to just “step in” and deal with your affairs if you are unable to do so, therefore your family will face a lengthy and costly court process just to have the legal powers to act on your behalf. Without a Power of Attorney in place, family members will be unable to carry out simple tasks such as paying bills or withdrawing money from a bank and this can be extremely stressful for them, at an already difficult time.
There are different types of POA you can put in place depending on your circumstances. At Thompsons we advise all clients regardless of age to create a Power of Attorney. As we know all too well, a 30 year old can be in an accident just as a 70 year old can. A POA is not only useful for the elderly or infirm.
Please be aware that a POA is not a Will in that it is only valid during your lifetime and ceases on death, when the provisions of your Will come into effect. A POA is, however, just as important as a Will.
General Power of Attorney (GPA)
A general POA is normally created for a limited period of time or for a specific issue. For example if someone is traveling abroad for a long period of time and would like someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf at the time they are travelling, or if someone is going into hospital for a planned operation and they need someone to deal with their financial affairs as they are unable to do so for a certain period of time.
Unlike other types of POA, a GPA will only last as long as you have mental capacity and also unlike other POA documents this does not require to be registered with the Office of Public Guardian.
Continuing Power of Attorney (CPA)
These types of POA allow someone you trust to deal with your property and financial affairs on your behalf such as running your bank accounts, paying bills or buying or selling your house. They can be used before or after incapacity, for example if you are capable of making decisions about your financial affairs but choose not to, then the person you appoint can assist you in this regard. They have a duty to consult you and act in your best interests at all times.
We understand many people don’t want to think that there may be a time in the future that they won’t be in a position to manage their own financial affairs, however doing nothing won’t change that. Setting up a continuing POA will give you piece of mind that you have someone you trust to make the right decisions for you should the need arise.
Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA)
Creating a WPA allows whomever you name as your attorney to make decisions about your health and welfare. Unlike the Continuing POA which deals with finances, this Welfare POA can only be used if you are incapable of making these decisions for yourself, so your attorney cannot make any health and welfare decisions on your behalf whilst you are capable of doing so yourself.
If you become incapable of making welfare decisions, your attorney will have the powers to decide anything that you would have normally had power to decide, such as where you live, consenting or refusing consent to medical treatments and decisions about your personal care and welfare.
Without a WPA in place, the local authority can appoint someone to make these decisions on your behalf. This does not have to be a family member or friend and is usually the local mental health officer or a social worker.
Talk to Thompsons
At Thompsons we have a solicitor-led team dedicated to help you create the right POA suitable for your needs. We will guide and advise you ensuring that everything is looked after should the worst happen.
Call 0800 089 1331 to create a power of attorney to ensure everything is taken care of when you’re no longer able to do so.