What is Power of Attorney?

What is Power of Attorney?

In life, there may come a time when, because you are incapable of managing your financial or property affairs, you will need someone to do this for you. 

A Power of Attorney relates to a legal document that enables someone to act on your behalf or make decisions for you. This can be a family member or friend, however, it is recommended that you get Power of Attorney advice from a qualified specialist. 

There are a number of different reasons why you may be looking into a Power of Attorney. Some examples include the following:

  • This may be a temporary situation, for instance, if you are in hospital and you need someone to pay your bills and assist with everyday tasks.
  • You need to make long-term plans, for instance, if you have been diagnosed with a condition such as dementia and you may not have the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future. 

In order to understand a Power of Attorney, you need to understand mental capacity. This refers to the ability to communicate or make certain decisions when they must be made. In order to have mental capacity, the decision you make needs to be fully understood, as well as the likely outcome of your decision, and why you need to make it. Requiring more time to communicate or understand does not mean that you lack mental capacity. For instance, having dementia does not mean you cannot make a decision for yourself. 

To make an enduring Power of Attorney, you can grant the power whenever you wish, as long as you are over 18 and mentally capable of understanding what a Power of Attorney means. When appointing an attorney, we recommend seeking legal advice, as you should carefully consider the range of powers you want to give your attorney. You can however, limit the power for certain parts of your affairs. For example, you may want them to deal with your bank accounts, yet not selling your property. 

The date on which the Attorney’s Enduring Power comes into effect depends on whether you have set any limitations or conditions in the Attorney’s Enduring Power. You might have made it clear, for example, that the lawyer(s) can not function until you become mentally incapable or until the court has recognised the Enduring Power. However, it is important to remember that if you haven’t set any restrictions or conditions, the Power of Attorney will start as soon as the attorney(s) have signed the Enduring Power of Attorney. 

If you change your mind and you wish to cancel or amend the Enduring Power of Attorney, you can do this at any time as long as you are mentally capable. Or, if your attorney dies, is no longer capable, or no longer wishes to act on your behalf – you will need to appoint a new attorney. 

If you need further advice or explanation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.