Peace of mind is just one thing you’ll gain from registering a POA.
The Office of the Public Guardian recorded a 24.6% drop in applications to register Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) in 2020-21, as covid social distancing measures stopped people from progressing their applications.
Power of Attorney lets you grant someone else the legal power to make decisions about your finances and healthcare, if you lose the mental capacity to make these yourself.
There can be serious repercussions to not having this critical document in place when a serious illness strikes, so the fall in registrations – down from 917,553 the previous year to 691,746 – is worrying.
You can only register it while you still have mental capacity – after that, it’s too late. So it’s important to act sooner rather than later. Here, we outline the main benefits.
1. Ensures you get the treatment you want If you’re suddenly hospitalised, urgent decisions may need to be made about your medical treatment or care – some of them life-changing. With a Power of Attorney in place, you can be more confident that the decisions made will reflect your wishes. For your loved ones, it will also make these decisions quicker and easier. Find out more: what is Power of Attorney?
2. Your loved ones will have access to your money when they need it Imagine you were the breadwinner for the family and you became incapacitated. It’s likely your partner and children would need urgent access to your bank accounts to pay essential bills, like energy, water, mobile phone and broadband, council tax, rent or mortgage payments. In the long-term, they’d also need the authority to make big financial decisions like selling the house. An LPA protects your loved ones from entering a legal limbo where they can’t make these crucial decisions about money. Find out more: how to set up Power of Attorney.
3. You can appoint someone you trust Power of Attorney gives you peace of mind that someone you know and trust is in charge of your affairs. You can choose anyone as long as they’re over 18, not bankrupt and they understand the responsibility they’re taking on. Without this in place, it’s left up to the courts to determine who you should make financial and medical decisions on your behalf. There’s a risk they’ll give that power to a solicitor or an accountant, instead of a loved one, or a relative you wouldn’t choose yourself.
4. Protects you from fraud If you’re no longer able to make financial decisions for yourself, this could make you an easy target for fraudsters. Having an LPA in place means someone is there to protect you from making unwise decisions that might not be in your best interest.
5. You can leave instructions Perhaps there’s a specific care home you’d like to go to, or you’re committed to ethical investing, or you want to make a contribution to your children’s university fees, even if you’ve lost capacity. If so, you can spell this out in your Power of Attorney documents. You can leave your wishes as a preference (what you’d ideally like to happen, if the attorney is presented with a choice) or an instruction (which is legally binding). You can also leave instructions for your loved ones in your will. Set up both a will and a Power of Attorney online, with the help of Which? Wills.
6. You’ll save your loved ones a long, painful fight Without power of attorney, your loved ones will have to apply for a deputyship at the Court of Protection.
It costs £365 to apply, plus other fees. Registering a deputyship also takes much longer than registering a Power of Attorney.
So, by getting Power of Attorney sorted, you can save your loved ones a lot of grief down the line.