It’s not easy to think about a time when you may not be able to make your own legal and financial decisions, however, it is beneficial to be prepared by nominating someone who will take control of your affairs. This is called a Power of Attorney. It provides an individual with the legal authority to act on your behalf and will only come into force when you can no longer make important decisions. Here are 5 factors you should consider when registering a Power of Attorney:
- Who should I appoint to make decisions for me?
This is an important decision that should be carefully considered as the person, or people, you choose will have the power to act on your behalf and so, it should be someone who you can trust. They should also be over 18 and in good mental health. You should not assume your spouse or next of kin automatically has enduring power of attorney, as this is not always the case. There is no limit as to how many people you can nominate, this is entirely your decision. If you do decide to appoint more than one attorney, you can choose to have them act together (all are required to sign documents), act separately (only one signature is required) or request that they act together in some situations but independently in others.
- What decisions do I want my attorneys to make?
It is important to consider what powers you think your attorney(s) will need so as they have the ability to make necessary decisions. In Northern Ireland, there is only one type of power of attorney, an enduring power of attorney, which lets someone manage all of your financial affairs. Currently, there isn’t an option to appoint someone to make decisions regarding your health and well-being.
- When do I want it to start?
It is your choice as to when you want the enduring power of attorney to come into effect, for example, you may only want it to begin once you’ve lost your capacity to act independently. If this is the case, you can add restrictions or conditions to the document so as the appointed attorney(s) cannot act until you become mentally incapable or the enduring power of attorney has been registered by the court. It may also be beneficial to add a statement regarding who can make a decision about your mental state such as a GP or someone you can trust.
- Should I seek legal advice before setting it up?
As power of attorney is an important legal document, we recommend contacting a solicitor for legal advice before setting one up, particularly if the situation is complex. Using a solicitor can also avoid problems in the long run as we will be able to provide you with a better understanding of the process, give advice in relation to who you should appoint and inform you about what should be included in the document.
- What happens if I want to end my Power of Attorney?
It is possible to revoke or cancel your power of attorney, however this will only be approved by the Office of Care and Protection if you are deemed mentally capable. This may be the case if your attorney dies, becomes incapable or no longer wishes to act on your behalf and so, you will need to appoint a new attorney.
Contact H McPartland & Sons today in Lurgan or Lisburn to have a chat with a member of our team and find out how we can help you grant a power of attorney and ensure your personal and financial matters are managed in the unfortunate event that you are unable to look after your own affairs. Our solicitors are familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices.