Blog written by Michael Carlin, Trainee Solicitor at Blackwood & Smith in Peebles
Why it is important to have a Power of Attorney in place.
It is never too early to start planning for the future. Although you may believe that at this point in time you are still capable of dealing with your affairs, unfortunately this may not prove to be the case in the future. Therefore, it is important to put in place a plan of action to ensure your Power of Attorney is drafted whilst you are fit, healthy and have capacity. Blackwood and Smith have a very experienced private client team and would be delighted to discuss this with you. https://www.blackwoodsmith.com/contact-us
What is a Power of Attorney?
There are 2 types of Power of Attorney:
- a Continuing Power of Attorney covers all financial matters, for example dealing with your house, bank accounts, investments, or payment of bills.
- a Welfare Power of Attorney which only operates once you lose capacity and deals with personal welfare issues, for example authorising medical treatment, or deciding on suitable accommodation for you if you are no longer able to live at home.
You can combine these in a single document, or you can grant them separately and at different times.
Who should I appoint as my Attorneys?
It is imperative that you appoint people whom you trust wholeheartedly and who understand what your wishes are. You are able to appoint different people to be your Continuing and Welfare Attorneys, or you can appoint the same person to deal with both. An Attorney must act in your best interests and take into account your own wishes.
In order to make a Power of Attorney you will need to meet with a Solicitor, who will guide you through the process of doing so. You will have to decide who you would like to appoint as your principal Continuing and/or Welfare Attorneys. It is recommended that you pick a substitute Attorney as well, in order to cover all eventualities.
What is the process?
Following your meeting with the solicitor, a draft Power of Attorney will be prepared and sent to you for approval.
Once you have approved the draft document, you will be required to sign the final version before a solicitor or a doctor who will certify that you have understood what you are signing and have not been forced into signing the document against your will.
The Solicitor will then obtain consent from the proposed Attorneys to make sure they are happy to act for you.
Finally, the signed Power of Attorney will be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian to be registered.
Only when it has been registered can the Power of Attorney be used.
When should I put my Power of Attorney in Place?
It is very important that you do not leave it too late. You can only make a Power of Attorney while you still have the mental capacity to do so. Your circumstances can change suddenly due to an accident or illness, which may make it impossible to have a Power of Attorney put in place. If that happens, then it may be necessary to go to Court and have a financial or welfare guardian appointed, which is far more time consuming and costly than having a Power of Attorney in place.
Therefore, it is preferable to ensure that a Power of Attorney is put in place whilst you are fit, healthy and have capacity, to ensure your interests are always protected and to give you and your family peace of mind.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney in place please contact our team to discuss. Our experienced private client team would be delighted to talk over your circumstances and ensure that the appropriate Power of Attorney is drafted for you. Please call us on 01721 720131 or fill in our online enquiry form https://www.blackwoodsmith.com/contact-us