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Friendly legal advice around setting up power of attorney

According to government figures, less than 1% of the population has lasting power of attorney in place, so someone can make decisions for them if they’re ever unable to.

However, you may not always be able to deal with your own affairs – for example if you ever develop dementia, or should you become seriously injured and suffer brain damage.

If these things were to happen, you would have no way to be sure the decisions being made about you, and things such as your bank account, were in your best interest.

Giving lasting power of attorney over some or all of your affairs to a loved one may be the answer. If you would like more information about that, or what’s known as ordinary power of attorney, the specialist solicitors at First4lawyers are here to help.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney is the legal power to deal with another person’s personal and/or financial affairs. There are two types: ‘ordinary’ and ‘lasting’.

  • Ordinary power of attorney

This gives someone of your choice full access to your affairs. This person can make decisions on your behalf and deal with your finances while you still have the mental capacity to do so yourself.

Ordinary power of attorney is only valid while you still have the mental ability to deal with your own affairs. This type allows you to keep an eye on the actions and decisions that your attorney makes on your behalf.

You can limit the power that you wish to give your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets. For example, you may wish to allow your attorney to make decisions regarding your bank account but not your home.

  • Lasting power of attorney

You can ensure that someone is able to obtain lasting power of attorney in the event that you’re unable to make decisions in the future, or if you no longer wish to make them yourself.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney. One deals with health and welfare and the other with your financial affairs and property. You can choose to make one or both of these types.

Why might I need to give someone power of attorney?

We must face up to the prospect of becoming unable to decide things for ourselves due to mental or physical incapacity, whether brought on by old age, an accident, or illness.

Power of attorney can help in times of mental incapacity – but also in other circumstances such as being in a different country for an extended period of time – by giving a person you trust the power to act on your behalf.

What are the steps you need to set up power of attorney? 

With the help of a solicitor, you’ll need to follow the steps below to set up power of attorney.

  • Seek guidance You can do this by contacting the Office of the Public Guardian, whose job it is to provide you with the support that you need to register the power of attorney. 
  • Choose the attorney(s) The person(s) you choose to give power of attorney must be someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf and must be over the age of 18.
  • Complete the document(s) – Power of attorney documents use a very precise, strict format. You must draw up separate documents for different types of power of attorney.
  • Get certification Every power of attorney document must carry the signature of an independent third party in order to be valid. The third party signature verifies that you understand the nature of the document and have agreed to its registration of your own free will.
  • Give request for notice ­– The document requires that up to five people are made aware of its existence in the event that it is actually registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. If this notice isn’t requested, the power of attorney document must be signed by two certificate providers, as opposed to just one.
  • Put the power of attorney into effect If the time for the power of attorney to take effect ever arises, your attorney(s) must register it with the Office of the Public Guardian.

I want to set up power of attorney – where should I start?

You should begin by getting in touch with solicitors who are trained in the law surrounding power of attorney.

Here at First4lawyers, we can assign specialists to people looking to set up power of attorney so they can get all the help and advice they need before they start the process.

To get more information yourself, or to start setting up power of attorney, call First4lawyers.

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