by Isabella McKerrow, Affinity Family Law
Why Every Adult Should Have A Power Of Attorney
As we head towards old age and face the prospect of becoming mentally and physically infirm, it is sensible to have a Power of Attorney “POA” in place. However, an adult could become physically or mentally infirm at any age as a result of illness or trauma. Every adult should consider having a POA in place, given they are inexpensive and unlike a will do not have to be reviewed every few years.
A POA can ensure that the financial affairs and personal welfare of the adult will be looked after by someone they trust. An adult who is mentally capable may grant a POA for various purposes and for however long. There are two types: Continuing, relating to property and assets or financial affairs of the granter. This can be used at any time for convenience and remains effective on subsequent incapacity: Welfare, relating to personal welfare decisions ensuring the family are involved and preventing the Local Authority making decisions if the granter becomes incapable. It can be stipulated that welfare powers are not granted unless a GP certifies the adult mentally incapable. A combined POA can be granted with both continuing and welfare powers.
The advantages of having a POA are that it enables speedy and appropriate intervention. It avoids the adult’s family the problems that arise when an individual loses capacity such as it being impossible to manage their financial/business affairs or deal with their property. The welfare POA prevents the Local Authority moving an incapable adult into a care home without the family’s consent. Granting a POA also avoids the lengthy, complicated and expensive process of applying to court for a Guardianship Order, which may only grant limited powers and may have to be renewed by further expensive court applications every three years.