Prepare for the future by setting up a Power of Attorney
Published 12 May 2016
You might not want to think about serious illness or accidents but if the worst does happen, you want to be sure your relatives take care of your financial affairs easily.
No one wants to think about accidents or serious illness – that’s why making important decisions about later life can be hard. But if the worst does happen, you want to be sure your family can get your money without any problems. After all, they might need this to pay for your care so you don’t want to put them through any stress.
This is why you might want to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney for your finances and property. This means someone else can make decisions about your finances if you can’t. Let’s find out what this means and how you can set this up.
What is a Power of Attorney?
If you were incapacitated due to a car accident or you had a serious medical condition like dementia, you might not be able to make decisions for yourself anymore. That’s why you might think about nominating someone you trust to make your decisions if this ever happened.
Don’t worry that a Power of Attorney would suddenly start making decisions for you – this would only happen if you couldn’t make certain decisions yourself. For example, if you fell into a coma, your Power of Attorney would take responsibility for your finances. But if you came out of the coma, you’d start making your own decisions again.
Without a Power of Attorney, your family members could have problems taking control of your money if you lost mental capacity. They’d have to apply to become a deputy through the Office of the Public Guardian. This is expensive and – more importantly – it can take a long time.
So if you couldn’t make your own financial decisions and your spouse had to go through the Office of the Public Guardian to get the money to pay your rent or mortgage and other important bills, it could be weeks before they get this.
How to set up a Power of Attorney
The cheapest way to set up a Power of Attorney is to do it yourself via the GOV.UK website. You’ll pay just the £110 fee to the Office of the Public Guardian (this is £70 if you’re in Scotland). You can fill in the forms online and then print them off to sign. If you need help with the forms you should be able to get help from your local Citizens Advice office.
But if you’re not confident with the legal terms or the process, you might want to get a solicitor to help. Although this is more expensive, you’ll have the peace of mind that everything is set up properly.
Don’t feel pressured into choosing a certain person as your Power of Attorney. It needs to be someone who you’d feel confident if they had control of your finances and who you think would act in your best interests. Decide carefully who you can trust and have a chat with them to see if they’re willing to accept the responsibility if they need to.