What is Power of Attorney?An attorney is someone who acts on your behalf – you appoint that person, and if anything happens, they can make sure your healthcare, money, and property is managed in your best interests.
And they’ll have to prove they’re acting in your best interests, too.
There are two kinds of Power of Attorney.
A temporary document is known as an Ordinary Power of Attorney.
A long-standing document is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney.
You can choose:
· A Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney.
· A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
You should express when Power of Attorney comes into effect, if you don’t want it to start immediately.
You can also revoke any Power of Attorney at any time, as long as you’re mentally capable of making decisions for yourself.
Explore more help and advice at our Power of Attorney hub.
When should you get Power of Attorney?
When you’re going abroadIf you’re going abroad for a substantial amount of time, you can get Ordinary Power of Attorney. The document will grant permission to an ‘attorney’ acting on your behalf to manage your property and finances while you’re away.
Ordinary Power of Attorney isn’t a permanent order. You set an end-date, and you can revoke it at any time.
You’re in control of what your attorney may manage. For example, you might want them to look after your house – and use your money for the up-keep – but not touch your other bank accounts.
Work with a solicitor to create a document that meets your needs, and is clear about exemptions.
When you’re staying in hospitalYou should consider getting Ordinary Power of Attorney when you know you’re going to be to heading into hospital for a little while.
Being a temporary document, it’s ideal for when you need someone’s help for a short time.
Your attorney will be able to manage your money for you, making sure you have food and all those ‘life essentials’, and your bills are paid on time.
Depending on why you’re going into hospital, you might also want to let your attorney take on your healthcare. Under your instruction, they can legally make decisions about medical care and treatments that are in your best interests.
However, certain exceptions apply. Your Power of Attorney solicitor will be able to advise.
When you write a willMany people believe that Power of Attorney is included in their will.
You can see why there’s confusion. After all, having named your spouse as a main beneficiary, it stands to reason you’d want them to also take care of you when you no longer can, right?
Power of Attorney is a separate document.
If you’re updating or writing your will, consider creating Power of Attorney while you’re there. It’ll save you time and money, as both documents can be drawn up together.
Remember, you’ll need to use a solicitor. Will-writing companies don’t tend to offer Power of Attorney as a service.
When you get married, divorced, or separateYour spouse, civil partner, or long-term companion isn’t legally allowed to take over your affairs just because you’ve had an accident or you’re going away.
Unless you share a joint bank account, they won’t legally be able to manage your money on your behalf. And it can cause chaos with big healthcare decisions.
Make getting Power of Attorney for a couple part of that legal stuff you keep promising you’ll get around to doing. Add it to the to-do list along with the wills, telling banks and the broadband people about any name changes.
If you and your spouse separate or divorce, update any previous Power of Attorney document to name a new attorney (or check that your other half is happy to continue to act on your behalf if anything happens).
When you move houseHouse-moving always involves far more paperwork than you ever realised was necessary – and Power of Attorney should be on that ever-growing list, too.
It’s just like a will, really. Because it’s a legal document, it should be created, updated, and maintained to reflect any major change in your circumstances.
Should the time come when you need someone else to look after the house, your Power of Attorney should ideally state which house. Make your wishes clear. Leave absolutely no room for misinterpretation.
When you’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating mental or physical illnessIf the worst has happened, and the doctors have had a chat, it’s time to think about whether you’re going to need a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney at some point.
Putting it in place can help put your mind at rest, letting you get on with life until it’s needed. It means that, even when you’re not yourself, you know you’re being properly cared for by those you love and trust.
You’ll have a lot on your mind and a lot more to do. But it’s best to act sooner rather than later – you need to be mentally capable to make a legal Power of Attorney document.
Just in caseThink of Power of Attorney as an insurance policy.
Many people do. They don’t get it for any particular reason except to feel a bit safer. We never know what’s going to happen – life’s already been pretty unpredictable over the last year and a half – and Power of Attorney helps us prepare and create a more stable future.
So long as you’re over 18 and ‘of sound mind’, you can speak to a solicitor about getting Power of Attorney.
Use our quick quote form to find and compare nearby solicitors who will put you in control.