Much like writing a will, naming a Power of Attorney is essential but it’s a step many people haven’t taken. Whilst no one wants to think about becoming too ill to make their own decisions, it can provide you with peace of mind and financial security should something happen.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the power to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so. It’s often a task that we put off because we think something won’t happen to us or that it won’t be a risk for years to come. However, a Power of Attorney isn’t something that can be put in place after you’ve lost the capacity to make decisions, it must be done whilst you’re sound of mind.

Dementia is often the first illness when we think of losing the ability to make our own decisions. And for good reasons, someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes. But this isn’t the only situation where a Power of Attorney is important. Other illnesses or accidents may prevent you from making decisions, even on a temporary basis.

A Power of Attorney gives a loved one the ability to make decisions on your behalf, either until you’re recovered or for the remainder of your life.

You may think that a Power of Attorney isn’t needed, as a loved one would be able to take care of you. However, this isn’t always the case. Even a spouse or civil partner wouldn’t be able to access your bank account if you’re not in a position to make decisions. As a result, putting a Power of Attorney in place is essential.

Whilst people often think of finances when you mention Power of Attorney, there are actually two different types and you should have both in place. The same person or number of people can be named in both types of Power of Attorney, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Health and Welfare Power of Attorney: This allows a loved one to make decisions about things like your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home and life-sustaining treatment where necessary.

Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney: This would give someone the power to make decisions about your money and assets, including managing bank accounts, paying bills on your behalf, collecting a pension or selling property.

5 reasons to name a Power of Attorney

1. Ensure your finances are secure

Financial commitments can quickly fall behind if you’re not able to make decisions, even if it’s just for a short period. A Power of Attorney can help ensure your finances remain secure, this could include paying regular bills or accessing income to cover your day-to-day costs. In the long term, it may include selling property or other assets in order to pay for care or support loved ones as you’d wish.

2. Receive the care and medical help you’d want

Thinking about medical needs and care if you become ill can be difficult, but a Power of Attorney can help ensure you receive care that’s in line with your wishes by giving a loved one the ability to make decisions. Thinking about what you’d want, such as your views on life-sustaining treatment and the type of care you’d prefer if it were needed.

3. Let loved ones know what your wishes are

Discussing what we’d like to happen in the event of becoming ill is something we often avoid. However, naming a Power of Attorney is an opportunity to discuss your wishes with a trusted family member or friend. It may not be an easy conversation, but you’ll be able to let them know what you’d like to happen when it comes to your care and estate.

4. Allow decisions to be made smoothly if needed

A loved one becoming too ill to make their own decisions can be distressing. Without a Power of Attorney in place, they would have to apply to the Court of Protection for an emergency order. This can be time-consuming and costly. It can place unnecessary stress and burden on loved ones that want to provide you with support. It can also mean your wishes are delayed or leave you in a vulnerable position whilst the emergency order is obtained. A Power of Attorney allows the process to be smoother.

5. Provide peace of mind

We don’t know what’s around the corner, but we can make plans for ‘what-if’ scenarios. A Power of Attorney can provide you with peace of mind that if something should happen, a loved one will be able to provide support and make decisions on your behalf.

Naming a Power of Attorney alongside your financial plan can help ensure these aspects are aligned, such as understanding that the type of care you’d prefer would be affordable if needed. If you’d like to discuss your long-term finances, please contact us.