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POWERS OF ATTORNEY

Powers of attorney are used when people need to appoint someone to manage their affairs. They enable you to specify who should make important decisions for you if you were to become incapable of making those decisions yourself. Your age is immaterial. Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected - you never know when the worst might happen, leaving you unable to manage your own affairs.

Powers of attorney can also be used if you want (rather than need) someone to deal with your affairs, even when you are capable of doing so yourself.

You can appoint more than one person to act on your behalf, selecting the best people for specific tasks (such as an accountant to manage your financial affairs, a relative to make decisions about your welfare) or because you would like more than one person to have joint responsibility for decisions.

The person, or people, you appoint are known as your attorney or attorneys.

Informal arrangements (made with, for example, a spouse or civil partner, relative, friend or accountant) have no legal standing and may not be recognised by the organisations and institutions (banks, utilities, hospitals, lawyers) which have to put your wishes into action.

If you don't grant someone power of attorney and suddenly need someone to manage your affairs, the process becomes bureaucratic, expensive and slow, leaving you and your affairs at risk.

What's best for you?

There are several types of power of attorney:

  • General and specific powers of attorney - for people who wish to appoint someone to deal with their affairs, regardless of their own ability to do so (for example if you are going abroad or into hospital and want to make sure someone has authority to act on your behalf while you are away); you can appoint someone to deal with everything or specific aspects only;
  • Lasting powers of attorney - for people who want to make arrangements for others to handle their affairs if they no longer wish to do so themselves, or if they lose their own ability to do so. A lasting power of attorney can only be used when it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. There are two types of lasting powers of attorney:
    • A personal welfare lasting power of attorney - can only be used when you no longer have the capacity to make decisions yourself. It gives your attorney the authority to access personal information (such as your medical records) and decide where you live and with whom, what you wear, what you eat and how you spend your day. Your attorney will also be able to give and refuse consent to your general medical treatment - but not about life sustaining treatment unless you have specified that in your lasting power of attorney.
    • A property and affairs lasting power of attorney - can be used when you have the capacity to manage your own affairs as well as when you haven't. It allows your attorney to make decisions about your property and affairs, giving them access to your bank accounts, paying your bills, collecting your income and benefits, managing your investments, buying or selling property and running a business.

And, finally:

  • Enduring powers of attorney - these can no longer be made as they were replaced by the lasting power of attorney in October 2007. However, they remain valid and enforceable, provided they were properly executed.
Solicitor Chiswick, West London: Wills, Probate, Inheritance Tax, Conveyancing

What you should do[ TOP ]

  • Act now - it is never too early to draw up a power of attorney. As with making a will, making arrangements about who should make important decisions about you if you became unable to do so gives you, and the people who could suddenly become responsible, peace of mind.
  • Think carefully about who you want to manage your affairs. Choose people you trust will follow your wishes.
  • Tell us if you need to act urgently (for example, if you are going into hospital for a major operation) so we know to be fast.

We will advise you on what is best for you.

Solicitor Chiswick, West London: Wills, Probate, Inheritance Tax, Conveyancing [ TOP ]