It’s a difficult subject to think about, and an even harder one to talk about with your loved ones. However, the more you prepare before your death the easier it is on those you leave behind. Let’s look at setting up a Power of Attorney – what it is, and if you need one.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone you nominate to take care of your affairs and make important decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. The important thing is to make the decision to set up a Power of Attorney while you are mentally capable, which means planning ahead and talking to your loved ones while you can.
Do I need a Power of Attorney?
It’s not a legal requirement but if you don’t should you become mentally incapable, through illness or injury, it will be already too late to set up a Power of Attorney. In such a case a court would make choices for you and these could be about:
- Financial: paying your bills, investing your savings, liquidising assets
- Personal: what health or medical care you should receive
A court would also appoint a deputy, which is a similar role to an attorney, but this wouldn’t be the person of your choosing and might incur a lengthy delay and additional costs.
Who Should I Choose?
You should choose someone you trust won’t use the situation for their own advantage. A Power of Attorney should understand your wishes and make decisions in your best interests. Typically, people choose their spouse or partner, another family member or a close friend. More than one person can act on your behalf, you can name a replacement as well.
How Do I Set Up a Power of Attorney?
You don’t need a solicitor to set up a Power of Attorney, unless you want or need their guidance. There are online agencies (different for England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) where you can apply for the forms and seek help about the process. Registration costs between £70 – £115 depending on where you live.
Here are the links to the online agencies where you can start the process:
- If you live in England and Wales: Office of the Public Guardian
- If you live in Scotland: Office of the Public Guardian
- If you live in Northern Ireland: Office of Care and Protection