Why a power of attorney isn’t just for the elderly
It isn’t easy to think about a time when you won’t be able to make your own decisions but putting the right things in place now could save you and your family heartache in the future.
A power of attorney allows someone to make decisions for you when you are unable or unwilling to do so yourself.
While it might sound scary it could mean that if you are stuck in hospital following an accident or you are diagnosed with a longer-term condition, someone you trust can help take care of your affairs.
“It is important to put your affairs in place as early as possible and before you lose capacity,” said James Young from Alexander Grace Law, in Burnley.
“By doing it sooner, you have the opportunity to speak to your loved ones about the decisions you would want them to make and maintain control over your own affairs.”
So what is a power of attorney and what could happen if you don’t have one in place?
Power of attorney explained
A power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions, or make decisions, on your behalf.
It gives them control over what happens if you have an accident or illness and either can’t make your own decisions or want someone to temporarily act on your behalf.
Despite what many people think, it isn’t always permanent. It could be because you are temporarily in hospital and need to make sure everyday things like paying the bills are taken care of.
However, it can also cover longer-term plans if you are diagnosed with a condition like dementia and can no longer act in your own best interests. In legal terms this is when you ‘lack mental capacity’.
There are two different types of power of attorney.
Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs
This covers financial decisions in relation to your money and your property.
An LPA for financial decisions can be used while you still have mental capacity or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare
This covers health and care decisions and can only be used once you have lost mental capacity.
Not just for the elderly
Alexander Grace Law, a respected property legal firm, has recently started offering power of attorney.
They wanted to raise awareness of a power of attorney among everyone who might be affected – couples buying a home together, people with ageing parents and younger families – as well as the elderly.
“We wanted to provide our clients with a full service and have recognised the need for people to have powers of attorney,” said Donnamarie Sturrock, from Alexander Grace Law.
“Currently we deal with property matters and powers of attorney go hand in hand with property transactions to help clients prepare for the future.
“We wanted to step away from the traditional approach of only elderly people having them and raise awareness to all relevant people.”
What can happen without a power of attorney?
If you lose mental capacity and haven’t appointed a power of attorney it might become necessary for the Court of Protection to become involved.
If this happens, your loved ones will have to go through a court process to be granted the power to make decisions on your behalf and will be subject to annual checks.
Granting a lasting power of attorney before you lose mental capacity not only helps avoid this, it also reassures your loved ones they are acting in a way you would have wanted.
Don’t assume because you are married or in a civil partnership that your partner will automatically have the right to deal with your bank account, pensions and healthcare. Without a lasting power of attorney they won’t be able to.
Find out more
Alexander Grace Law is based in the North West of England and offers specialist property advice to its clients.
Directors James Young and Donnamarie Sturrock have worked locally for more than 10 years, specialising in property law and accumulating over 22 years of experience in their field.
The firm specialises in residential conveyancing and commercial property and provide honest, straightforward advice.
To find out more about how Alexander Grace Law could help you protect the future of you and your loved ones call 0800 0315413 or visit www.alexandergrace-law.co.uk.