Planning for the unknown can seem daunting but with a power of attorney in place your family's future is in your hands
08 June 2021
As a parent, you want to ensure that your family are provided for should the worst happen. Many of us are familiar with the importance of putting a will in place to protect your family after you are gone. However, the current situation has shown us how crucial it is to ensure your family are protected whilst you are still here.
All of us are hoping that we are approaching the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, but the lessons we have learned should not be forgotten. It’s worth asking yourself, in the unfortunate situation that you were to take ill, be taken into hospital or lose capacity, is your family protected? Does your partner/spouse, parent or child have access to family money whilst you are ill? Who has the power to make welfare decisions on your behalf whilst you are in hospital? Do the people who require it have access to money to continue to pay bills on your behalf?
If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, then perhaps you should give consideration to putting a power of attorney in place.
There is a common misconception that only the elderly require powers of attorney. Often it is thought that older children should consider putting them in place for their elderly parents. In actual fact it is prudent for adults of any age to consider putting in place powers of attorney as part of their lifetime planning. As COVID-19 has so obviously shown, capacity may be lost suddenly and unexpectedly and can rarely be predicted. We would suggest that it is just as important for parents to consider putting these in place to ensure their young children are provided for.
A power of attorney is a simple way of delegating authority to a person or people you trust to make decisions about your finances and care if ever required. All decisions taken by your chosen attorney must be made in your best interests. Decisions about your care can only be taken if you were to lose capacity. Financial decisions can be taken at any time after your power of attorney has been registered if you have allowed your attorney to do so.
If you were ever to suffer a serious injury or illness and not be able to manage your affairs even for a short while, having a power of attorney in place would mean that someone would always have access to your finances and be able to contact providers of household utilities if necessary. Having a power of attorney in place is a bit like having an insurance policy – you always hope it never needs to be used but on the day that it does, you are glad that you have it in place.
It is important to remember that you cannot grant a power of attorney if you have already lost capacity. By this point it is too late. The process that your family would have to go through to get access to your finances and to make decision about your welfare is long and costly. Normally those closest to you would have to go to the court and ask them to grant these powers. This is known as a guardianship order.
If you would like more information on putting a power of attorney in place please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our private client team today.
Trainee SolicitorDylan Mitchell