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/ 13 Jun 2019

You’ve got the Power (of Attorney)! ….But only if you choose to use it

A Power of Attorney allows you, as the donor, to appoint an attorney(s) to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. The attorneys can be the most responsible and reliable person you know, even just your parents. They can then essentially stand in your shoes for whatever business the Power of Attorney permits. This can be in a wide range of matters such as your medical or financial affairs.

I need two of me sometimes

Off on a long séjour and don’t fancy cutting it short to sign that very important document? Wish you could be in two places at once? A General Power of Attorney allows your attorney to conduct any sort of business on your behalf. This power can be specific, and is usually time limited, such as if you are abroad and selling your property back in the UK, your attorney may be limited to signing documents relating only to this transaction on your behalf.

But I’m a grown up

A Power of Attorney does not mean that people get to overrule your decisions -sorry Dad! Instead they can allow you as the donor to ensure the control of decisions related to your care or your finances are in the hands of someone you trust, even if you are unable to make these decisions yourself, be it temporarily or otherwise. This can be done using a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare or for Property and Finance.

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can only be used once the donor has lost mental capacity. This can cover health and care decisions such as where you should live and your medical care.

A Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is for financial decisions and can be used upon your instructions when you have mental capacity, or you can state in the LPA that you only want it to apply once you lose capacity.

I have plenty of time to sort this out when I need to

Don’t leave it too late to get a Power of Attorney as you must have capacity to make one, and otherwise your loved ones may have to apply to court to be able to deal with your affairs. This could result in the person running your affairs not being the one you would have chosen, and there being several months during which no one can deal with your affairs.

Everyone should consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney. It is the best way to ensure your affairs are taken care of by someone you trust following your own wishes and ensure you get the care you want, such as watching the boxset of Friends until your dying day, just because.

You have got the power, so use it wisely and look after yourself. Come and chat with one of our friendly and experienced Private Client solicitors at Hanne & Co about preparing your Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Marie-Claire Long is a trainee solicitor in the Wills, Probate and Trusts Department of Hanne & Co. LLP

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